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Conquering Fear

 

Have I mentioned that I have fear of heights?

It didn’t use to be the case till maybe 25 years ago and not sure why it developed.

Now I have a hard time getting to the ledge of anything high. I prefer to stay back.

 ----

Here comes X-Tasea, Acapulco - world’s largest over-water zip line and one of the adrenaline adventures the city offers. Because who wants to do something boring, right?

X-Tasea extends for more than a mile across Puerto Marquez Bay and reaches speeds of up to 75 mph at an altitude of 328 feet.

Thought to myself - this will be a cool experience to face my fear.

We got to the site - oh, those ropes look super high and long. I could sense the discomfort in my body. 

Climbed up a set of stairs. The ropes appeared even higher.

They weighted us. Thought to myself - definitely not a place you’d want to lie about your weight. Maybe humor will distract me?

We started getting set up with safety equipment, helmets. The upcoming experience began getting quite real.

One of my companions: Well, at least if I die, it would be doing something adventurous in Mexico.

The other one: If I fall in the water, I will drown. I can’t swim.

My mind got loud:
What on earth do you think you are doing? You are scared of heights, remember? This is the time to turn around!

The site crew from the level up waived to me to go further up.

I looked at the stairs. Not were they only steep but they were metal rails you can see down all the way to the ground.

One of the girls: Wow, look how high we are right now!

Me: I can’t look down or up right now. I am terrified of heights.

My heart rate escalated.

“I will wait for my friends!”, I shouted back to the guy.

Sounded like a great excuse to stall my moving any more up and forward.

Until .... my friends were ready to go. One of the girls bravely moved ahead.

The other one started having second thoughts. Her thinking was aligning with the noise in my head.

One part of me:
This is the time to turn around! Do it now! You can’t even climb the steps up. What if there is jerky movement? You can get hurt.

The other part of my head:
Get out of your head and just go!
Stop overthinking and move!
I can do this. I can totally do this. Let’s go! Now!

I took a deep breath.

I started climbing up the stairs like a turtle holding (grabbing) the side rails. Shoot, they were not only metal railings but they were suspended and were gently rocking side to side.

(In my head):
This just keeps getting better! There is still time to turn around!

Just don’t look down. Gaze straight ahead.

There was a red big sign: do not jump!

In my head:
Who on earth is the brainiac who would think jumping right here would be a good idea?!?
There is still time to go back.

Other side of my head:
This is just like life! You can do this! Breathe. One step up at a time.

I got to the highest platform. Jeez. It’s high. I tried to peak down. Heart pounding.

Here comes the photographer:
Ladies, please step to the yellow line for a picture.

(In my head): THAT yellow line close to the edge?!? Dude, you have lost your mind.

At this point my legs are shaking.

I looked at him. I am pretty sure it’s not the first time he has seen this look.

He held his hand out, and I moved ALMOST to the yellow line.

(In my head): This is it. Picture has to be here because I am not moving another step further.

Photographer: smile!

The two people getting ready to go prior to us were a young couple. I was trying to see their faces. Are they as nervous as I am?

They went. The crew waived to move forward to be hooked.

I looked at the guy who was going to help me.

Me: Is it bad? I am scared.

I could barely speak at this point.

Him: No. It’s good.

He extended his hand toward me.

(In my head):
This is your last chance to turn around!

Maria, you got this girl! Breathe. You can do this. Move. Step forward.

I took a breath. Baby step forward. Pause. Breathe. Another step forward. Pause. Breathe. This ain't the right time or place to lose your balance so you better keep it together. 

Repeated a few times till I reached the guy’s hand. I may have almost crushed it.

He got me to sit down. At this point, if someone measured my heart rate, they would have thought I was sprinting. My legs were shaking.

He started hooking up the apparatus.

His name was David. He was probably a bit younger than me, in great shape, amazingly calm and super charming. I think he was flirty but I was pretty much completely silenced (doesn’t happen often).

I had other priorities to sort out in my head:
I wonder if someone has passed out during the ride? Or, if anyone has ever puked? I may be the first one. Why exactly am I doing this?

The darn 'why'  and my over-analytical mind..... awareness. 

The other part of me:
Girl, you have done this so many times lately, you got it. It’s just like life! This fear isn’t real! It will be great! Savor it.

David told me to cross my feet and keep my knees bent during the ride.

There comes his colleague and tells me to extend my legs while crossing the feet.

Part of me freaks out: wait, wait, bent knees or extended legs?

One place and time where I am fully on board with not breaking any rules!

I hold on the side ropes.

Me: Do I hold here?

The other guy (totally calmly): No, here.

Corrects me.

(Inside my head, annoyed):
Why on earth do they not tell me exactly where to hold?!?

Me: Here? Is it ok to hold here (referring to the ropes I was holding)?

Guy (calmly): No, here.

(Inside my head).
Ok, ok, I won’t dare touching them. Only holding here. My legs will stay exactly in this position. I got it. Is my core engaged? Will protect my spine. Breathing. Breathe! Don’t stop breathing. That will ensure you don’t throw up. But don’t breathe too much because you can hyperventilate and pass out.

David: Move forward.

Me (unconsciously shaking head): Oh, no, that’s WAY too close to the ledge.

He said something in Spanish. The other guy came to the other side and then both nudged me forward.

At this point my hands were shaking. They started sweating as well.

(In my head):
Stop this because you are supposed to hold on. And it’s getting slippery.

I could see the vast space below me and the long ropes ahead.

The guys moved back. A lady came and put the shades attached to the helmet down to protect my eyes. At this point, I am pretty much motionless.

(In my head):
Geez, my entire body is shaking. I feel like I am about to throw up and OMG, now I feel like I will pee on myself.

Everyone moved back. They were speaking loudly in Spanish. Sounded like it was a very coordinated effort. I don’t know all they said but I do know they were sharing my weight with someone. Yes, please make sure they know how much I weight. 

(In my head):
If I hadn’t been eating sugar, I’d probably be lighter on this ride. Is that good or bad? Too late for that consideration right now.

(The other part of my head):
You got this! This fear isn’t real. You are psyching yourself up for no reason!

The guys in the back: Lista? (Ready?)

(In my head): I hope they don’t expect me to voluntarily jump because there is no freaking way!

I could feel the ropes moving, slowly. Like a suspense movie in slow motion. I was moving forward towards the vast and enormous empty space under me. The ledge was slowly approaching.

(In my head):
OMG, OMG, this is happening, I will now puke.

And then the rope released. I screamed insanely for maybe a second or two or three.

And then my entire body calmed, just like that...

The incredible surrounding which a few second ago appeared absolutely terrifying turned to a gorgeous view of water and land.

The sun was caressing my skin. The breeze was refreshing.

My body stopped shaking. My heart rate calmed. My breath slowed down.

(In my head):
Wow! What an unbelievable adventure! I am SO happy I did this! Look at the view! Ah, this feels so good! Wow, wow, wow.

As I was savoring the experience, I was approaching the end of the rope.

Oh, man, I want some more of this!

My friend was ahead of me on the ropes. Hm. She hadn’t ridden to the end of the rope but stopped....and started moving backwards.

I got so confused. As I was processing what was happening to her, my speed was slowing. Then I stopped.

(In my head):
Oh-oh. I have another 1/4 to go to the end. What just happened?

Then I made the mistake of looking down. Have I mentioned enough times that I have fear of heights? Geez! 

I yelled across, voice shaky: What’s going on, M? Are you moving backwards or am I imagining things?

M: I don’t know what’s going on.

I could tell she was uneasy with the situation either. Her facial expression said it all as she was looking down towards the water. She was the friend who doesn’t swim.

No idea why, I bursted laughing. Laughing so hard tears were coming down. I laughed so hard till I became aware the rope was shaking more.

(In my head):
You better chill down, rebellious girl! 

That’s when I could see two guys were zip lining towards up to come take us to the end of the line.

We got off. Wow! What a freakingly amazing adrenaline rush!


—-
Why do I share all this detail with you? Because as I got off, this entire experience for me wasn't about the zip line. What pushed me forward each baby step the entire time is what I keep having to work through every single time entrepreneurship pushes me outside my comfort zone...

The realization - this is the exact same thing that happens with fear in real life. Sometimes the most beautiful adventures appear terrifying. Our fear holds us back from experiencing the adrenaline of living, living fully rather than just existing.

Sometimes we need a gentle nudge and a calm voice to encourage us to move closer to the edge and jump so that we can enjoy the view.

Another food for thought - by looking at the pictures, you are probably seeing a smile of excitement rather than body and mind paralyzed by fear.

Perception versus reality.

How often do we look at someone's journey and experience jealousy/ envy at their success? How often do we think of the courage, resilience and difficult moments that get them to that point. 

—-
I can’t wait to go back and repeat X-Tasea. I wonder if the experience will be any different. 

Till then, I’d love to hear from you as to how you face your fears.

Xoxo,
M

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