I like to think that I can do just about anything, at least once. When I travel this seems to be even more pronounced as I find myself doing things that I would never consider back at home. And in spite of my fears, or because of them, I’ve done a lot of extreme activities from jumping off of the highest bungee swing in the world to swimming with Great Whites. Once in a while though I meet a challenge that I just can’t accept, as was recently the case when I couldn’t skydive in Jordan.
It was towards the end of the trip and I had an opportunity to skydive at a facility in the Dead Sea. The company, SkyDive Jordan, was respectable, had a great reputation and everything looked great. Driving up to their headquarters just meters from the Dead Sea, I even thought that I would jump out of that plane until we walked through the door and I was hit by the totality of the experience.
Let me back up, I have a conditional fear of heights. I’ve written about it before and sometimes I can face that fear and other times I can’t. Gazing out from the tallest skyscrapers in the world is fine but put me on a ten-foot ladder and I’m a quivering mess. Following the logic, the jump should have been fine, but my gut instincts disagreed.
I should say, this is in no way a slight to the company. They were great and have an amazing track record both in Jordan and Dubai. No, it was all me and what I found even more interesting was how I felt. I was angry, really angry, not at anyone else – just myself. I thought I had licked this fear, well mostly, from epic bungees to zip lines all over the world I thought I had somewhat resolved this phobia. As everyone joked nervously and suited up, I couldn’t help but feel like a loser. Someone who let his fears get in the way of an amazing experience – against every bit of advice I have ever given anyone.
Facing fears is important and travel seems to be the best opportunity for us to do this. We tend to be more outgoing when we travel and we almost always do things we would never consider at home. We let go of some of our inhibitions and are more carefree. At home I don’t zip line, go on 10-mile hikes or jump off of buildings, yet I do when I travel. When we face our fears we grow as individuals, we become stronger, more able and all around better human beings. I think that’s what made me so upset, that I let a very silly fear get in the way of an amazing, probably once-in-a-lifetime, experience. It is deeply regrettable and something that I’m still ashamed about.
Looking back I don’t think it was a good decision NOT to skydive, just as I felt at the time. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t suit up, go up in the plane and then jump out of it. I know intellectually it was fine and I know that the instructor who would’ve been attached to me would be doing all the jumping, and yet I just couldn’t manage it. I was scared and it is a fear that I have apparently not been able to beat yet.
Even though I missed this opportunity for both fun times and personal growth, the experience did teach me a lot. It taught me that I have become too used to accepting some of my fears. Sure, I did the bungee in South Africa, but twice this year I have bowed out of activities due to heights. These are not the actions of someone who has conquered his conditional fear of heights. I must continue working on this and the next time one of these death-defying activities comes up, I just have to go for it and hope for the best. Not because of the experience itself necessarily, but because what it will do for me personally. It will help me grow, be less fearful and in turn improve other aspects of my life. No one should live a life a fear, no matter how small the fears might be they at some point become too controlling if we let them go unchecked.
Watching my friends descend from the plane, parachutes popping open I couldn’t help but think how beautiful it was. Storm clouds passed and a double rainbow emerged, a rare treat in the desert to be sure. It was a gorgeous moment and one that I felt existed just for me, a way for the universe to pat me on the back and tell me that everything would be ok. And I know that it will, as long as I continue facing my fears, no matter what they may be.
What are some of your fears? Have you faced them?
This campaign was created and sponsored by Jordan Tourism Board in partnership with iambassador. LandLopers retains all editorial control of what is published and as you know, I never shy away from honest commentary.