When I was in my early 20 somethings, a bunch of friends decided that it would be “Soooo cool” to plan a day where we would all go sky diving. There was a place about 40 min south of our hometown that we could go to, we would spend half the day training, learning how to pack a chute, and mimicking the process of successfully jumping from, might I add, a perfectly functioning airplane, and then finally finishing the day with hopping in said plane only to leap out at 3000 feet while praying that all the emergency strategies that you’ve suddenly forgotten, aren’t required.
I can’t exactly remember what my 20 something self was thinking at the time of this brilliant idea, if I was really as eager as I portrayed myself to be, or if I was maybe just thinking it was one of those things that we all say we’re gonna do but never really act on it. Regardless, it was happening, and I was all in.
During our training the instructor took us over to the plane that we would be flying up in and walked us through the process of how to safely and successfully get ourselves from our comfy spot inside the plane and out in to the open sky.
This is where things got tricky. Much to my surprise, jumping out of an airplane did not literally mean JUMPING from an airplane. Oh no no no, there was no jumping. It was more of a shimmy out of the plane door on to a tiny little step (that my size 10s dominated by the way), all while holding on the freaking wing for dear life!!!
As I frantically looked around to see if any of my friends were also having second thoughts during this demonstration, I could only hope that someone would bail first so I too could back out and comfort them like the loving and thoughtful friend that I am, but it was crickets. I was going skydiving.
15 years later as I reminisce on what seems like a wild memory now, and wonder “what the hell was I thinking??” I realize that this experience taught me a lot about life that I never fully grasped back then. Don’t let fear stand in your way, trust, and let go.
The paralyzing fear of shimmying out of an open plane door, while soaring 3000 feet in the air at only God knows how fast, hanging on to the wing of a plane while flying parallel to this massive aircraft was terrifying to me while I was securely on the ground. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t as scary once I was up there, but at that point, it was different. Its not that I wasn’t afraid, it was that I wasn’t about to let my fear stand in the way and hold me back from something that I knew I would regret not doing.
The other important lesson I learned was to trust. I had to trust that my chute was packed properly, I had to trust that my headset would work as the man on the ground guided me to my landing point, I had to trust that the instructor would rip my cord upon me letting go of the wing and not leave me fumbling mid air to fend for myself. I had to trust that everything would work out, and if it didn’t, I had to trust that I had the know how to get to where I needed to go one way or another.
Lastly, it was time to let go. I remember holding on a little longer then I needed to, which, I sometimes tend to do in life, and as I was gripping that wing with white knuckles waiting for the go ahead, I looked over to see my instructor smiling at me, eagerly nodding and then shouting, “LET GO”. I smiled back just as crazily and yelled “YAH?? NOW??” just to be sure I had heard correctly. And that was it. I arched my back, released my death grip and I was soaring. I DID IT!!! Within seconds my chute opened, my radio kicked in, and I was headed towards my ground target as if I had done this a million times before.
As a now 30 something year old mom of 3, I realize how often in life we find ourselves under these circumstances. Do we overcome our fears, trust and let go? Or do we allow those fears to take over, convincing ourselves that its far too scary and the outcome is too unpredictable and never even leave the ground??
Whether you’re jumping out of a plane, leaving an unhappy relationship, or taking a chance on a brand-new career that just feels right, whatever it is that you’re facing, don’t let the fear of the unknown hold you back. Trust and let go of what’s no longer serving you. Remember, in order to reach for something greater, you must first let go of what’s in your hand.