Ever thought of skydiving? Maybe you want to but, just like I was, you’re terrified of the idea. It might be the idea of being up in a plane, of the height or just falling. Either way, I truly believe that if I can do it then so can you. If you want to hear a true account of what it’s like then read on.
Skydiving was something I was always a little jealous of others trying. Several people I know have done this (often for charity) and I have always declined due to my fear of heights. More specifically it is not even a fear of heights as I love being up high and looking down (as long as I feel safe). The fear is actually of the ‘feeling of falling’ which might sound bizarre. That feeling you get when your stomach drops – often from a fairground/theme park ride – is something I actually dread. It all stems from being taken on the Tower of Terror as a small child whilst on a trip to Florida. Ever since that moment I have not been able to go on anything that might induce this feeling once more.
However, I did my research on the internet and talked to several people in the volunteer house. No-one seemed to think I would feel this way. Everyone kept telling me it was the best experience ever. Furthermore, I knew that Anthony really wanted to do it. I wanted him to do it and I wanted to do it too in a way. After booking a week in advance I began to feel ill with the fear of it all. I couldn’t sleep properly and kept thinking about it imagining every scenario. I tried to deny I was scared and convince myself it would be fine. I was dreading it! On the actual day I could barely eat or focus. Luckily we had a morning slot, our transport arrived and we were off to the drop zone.
On arrival I was completely on edge but the team there really relaxed me. I met Jason my tandem partner and he got me all harnessed up. I talked to a few jumpers who had just landed and they were buzzing about the experience. We watched the current set jump out of the plane (just a small white speck in the sky) and then we were called. I thought the plane ride would be terrible but it wasn’t too bad – it was cramped and there was a window where the wall/door should be but we got a great view below. It was only as I was being connected to Jason and the window was opened that I began to freak out. I started to repeat that I wasn’t ready and then he threw me out…
…before I could even think about chickening out of it, we were falling. I had braced myself (a hilarious sight when you watch the video back) for the feeling as I was sure it would come but it didn’t. Then my arms were out and I was flying like a bird. It didn’t feel like falling just floating but with the wind rushing into your face. Then in almost no time at all (it didn’t feel like 30 seconds had gone by) the parachute was deployed. We just hung there. I was so relieved that it was a great feeling. There was no sound really as it was so peaceful. So peaceful I was able to chatter away to Jason and explain about the Tower of Terror incident (I’m still traumatised now). I was even able to take control of the parachute, doing some 360º turns and getting a full view of the coastline and sand dunes below.
Unfortunately all good things have to come to an end. It was strange as we got closer to the ground as it looked almost surreal when we were up high but suddenly it became very clear and very real in a short space of time. Other than a quick panic that we might land on the hangar roof, it was completely fine and we touched down in the sand. When asked if I would ever do it again, I had to admit that I would. This is what shocked me the most. I was still buzzing with adrenaline as I waited for my video to be processed. It was hilarious to watch it back and see the look of fear in my face. I couldn’t believe that I had been brave enough to do it. Yet it was also really amazing to see myself achieving what I thought to be the impossible – I had actually overcome a fear. I had done it.
Have you ever overcome a fear or phobia? What was your experience and how did it change your outlook afterwards? We’d love to hear about it so please comment below or contact us.
Skydiving was one of the many adventurous activities we undertook during our volunteering placement with Plan My Gap Year in Cape Town. To read more about our experiences here, check out our post on Adrenaline Cape Town.