I always say “I’ll try anything once…. twice if it’s kinky enough” (sorry Mom, just kidding!). Skydiving may not be kinky but it is one of those things that I would try over and over again. The exhilaration of the jump makes it exciting, but the lessons you learn while skydiving are what make it truly unforgettable. Here are just a few of the things I learned from my own skydiving experience:
People Will Judge You, No Matter What!
From the moment I declared “skydiving” as an item on my bucket list, people began judging me. Some people anticipated that I would get in the plane and then chicken out. Others (who were more simpatico with my own attitudes on life), raised their estimation of me based on the fact that I even WANTED to go skydiving in the first place. Most of my family and friends just told me that they thought I was crazy… but they all judged me once they knew about my intentions.
Then, on the day that I scheduled my jump, I arrived at the location and was surprised to find myself being judged some more. Other customers were pretty vocal in their judgement because I went to the center alone while everyone else jumped with a friend or at least had someone watching from the ground. My favorite judgement came from my tandem instructor who asked my name followed by “Are you nervous?”. When I explained that I was mostly excited, he started asking me about the state of my mental health. Apparently, most people express more fear initially (but at that point I was still on the ground so I didn’t have a reason to be scared yet).
If I had changed my mind and backed out at the last minute, the people who considered the jump a positive experience would have judged me. If I had jumped but been hyperventilating beforehand, people would have judged me. In my case, I was judged for being too gung-ho about it. The only way for me to avoid the judgement of other people would have been to not mention to anyone that skydiving was even on my bucket list. My point is that someone is going to be judging you regardless of what you do, so you might as well choose to live your life in the way that makes you happiest instead of trying to please everyone else.
It’s OK Not To Have All The Answers
When I got to the skydiving center, I was given surprisingly few instructions on what to do during my “let’s jump out of a plane” adventure. The directions took less than a minute, (which is really quite alarming if you think about it too hard, so I chose not to). My instructor, Chris, harnessed me up and made sure my gear was in proper working order and then told me that he had jumped over 4,700 times (that part was far more reassuring) but he never showed me how the equipment worked, which cord we would pull, how to land the parachute, or… well, anything. Then, we boarded the plane and when we reached the proper altitude he hooked our harnesses together so that I was strapped to his chest. He gave me one last reminder to keep my legs back and told me that we were going to jump out of the plane on the count of three. So, Chris starts counting and this is what happens.
ONE…. OK, I’m freaking out on the inside; this guy KNOWS what he is doing, right?! What if the absolute worst happens? I literally might pee my pants. This is where I had to take a deep “Oh crap, what have I done” breath and remind myself that this decision was made LONG before I reached those open airplane doors.
TWO… JUMP!!!! Chris didn’t give me a chance to worry about things I couldn’t control.
We were tumbling into the air and all my trust was immediately placed in him because I wasn’t going to waste my time worrying about being in control when I was falling 18,000 feet and there were much cooler things to be doing. By letting go of my need to have all the answers, I was able to enjoy the moment. I got to be truly present and see the amazing scenery, to feel the awesomeness of free-falling towards the ground at 120 miles per hour, and to really experience the “high” of the adventure. I no longer worried that I didn’t have all the answers, I only cared that I soaked up as much of the moment as I could… and if that isn’t a lesson we all need in our lives, I have no idea what is!
It’s All About Perspective
What’s the hardest part about skydiving? The Ground. (I’m not even sorry for that joke!) Naysayers often assume that skydiving is insanely risky. But statistically speaking, you are 24 times more likely to die in a car accident than during a parachuting incident. Despite the odds, most of us get in cars nearly every single day of our lives without a second thought, purely because it is familiar to us. Sometimes we make things big and scary in our heads because we are afraid to break out of the boxes we have trapped ourselves in. Stepping out of your comfort zone might sound scary in theory but in reality, that is where the big magic happens!
Once you jump out of the plane, you’ve conquered your fears. You’ve made a leap that most of your friends and family are too scared to do. You’ve seen the world from a completely different angle. You’ve experienced something extraordinary. All of those things add up to and amazing feeling of pride and the empowering realization that you can do hard things. Skydiving teaches you not to let fear dictate your fate and to never let an opportunity pass you by… after all, there is no parachute in real life so you only get one chance at this particular jump!
Is skydiving on your bucket list, something you’ve already done, or something you would never even consider? Let me know in the comments! If jumping out of a perfectly good airplane isn’t quite your thing but Delta flights with your kiddos is more your speed, make sure you check out this post for tips on flying with a baby.