That's me rappelling a waterfall in St. Lucia 😱 and it was the most petrifying thing I've ever done in my life. I should note that I'm terrified of heights. Like, struggles-to-climb-ladders afraid of heights. But I wanted to do this because hello, it's really badass.
I knew going into this press trip that I would be nervous about rappelling, but I had this notion that I'd face my fears, get over the top ledge, and that would be that. I thought that running head-on toward your fears meant they went away, that they suddenly didn't hold any power over you anymore. Newsflash: That's so wrong.
I had no trouble getting buckled in and walking to the ledge; even going over wasn't bad. But once my body was hanging totally horizontal on a rope, and I saw how far away the ground was, I freaked. I was paralyzed. My adrenaline surged and my heart rate spiked. The only thing that finally made me nudge down the waterfall was that I wanted it to be done and there was no other way out. My feet slipped and I smashed into the rock face over and over, and I started sobbing. I wanted to enjoy the experience, but honestly I was just deathly afraid the whole time, and felt so relieved when our guide pulled me down the last few feet into the pond.
I had faced my fears, but I was still terrified.
Lately, I've been scared of a lot of things in life - work, personal stuff. I've let those fears intimidate me into inaction. I know that doing nothing makes it worse, but I also know now that moving toward your fear doesn't destroy it.
I don't regret rappelling at all; I'd have been more upset with myself if I didn't do it. But I do remember being disappointed that I'd been so terrified the whole time. I was proud I did it, but not of my reaction.
I don't know when fear goes away, and I'm beginning to accept that maybe it never does. I know that tiny moves in the right direction make you stronger and better able to handle fear. And I'm sure practice and time make things like rappelling easier. But maybe we're always a little scared. And that's ok. It's ok to feel that and admit it. We just can't let it paralyze us. And that means being just a teeny bit braver than we are afraid.