Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Getting comfortable being uncomfortable has been my motto for the past 7 years.  In 2009 I started a weight loss journey that took me to places I never imagined I would go.  While the details aren’t important the lesson is.  I have found that pushing your mental and physical boundaries will lead you to the realization that we were not made to settle for the status quo and we need to find our breaking point.  Then we need to overcome it. 

For as long as I can remember I have always had a fear of heights.  It is something that has always made me question myself.  It didn’t matter what it was, roller coasters, hiking near a cliff’s edge, rock climbing, or simply getting to close to balcony railing, unnecessary doubt would enter my mind.  It was frustrating and would limit my enjoyment of what should have been joyful experiences. 

Skydiving has always intrigued me but with the for mentioned acrophobia I have always wondered whether I could go through with it.  Previous to my epiphany in 2009 it would have been a question that went unanswered.  Since then it had been burning a hole in my curiosity.  During my journeys I came across a group of like-minded individuals who encouraged breaking through comfort and it was that group that provided the opportunity to challenge my fears.

A Rogue Dynamics skydiving was scheduled and I decided to commit.  I was convinced that I was ready to face my limitations and was excited to jump.  Then the day of the event came and reality came crashing through like a freight train.  I went through the sign up process and it was excruciating.  The waiver was a nightmare.  It set my imagination on overdrive and made me realize that death was a possible outcome.  It made me question my judgement (Should a husband and father of two be risking this). I was able to calm myself down, get through the process and realize that despite my fears skydiving is a statistically safe sport. 

Initially skydiving does quickly, there is a lot of waiting and during that time I was more nervous than I can ever recall.  After what seemed like an eternity it was finally time to meet with my instructor James, suit up, go through training, and find out what I was made of.  For a bit I was able to relax and focus on what I needed to be doing but then we got on the plane and once again reality of the situation flooded in.  During the ride to altitude on the outside I was calm but on the inside I was a mess.  Doubt, fear, and insecurity were tearing me apart.  I was a wreck but I held it together.  

The time came for me to jump and I focused on following orders.  We got to the door and put myself into position. One, two, three, not sure if I wanted to or not I am falling through the air.  The feeling is surreal, as I write this I am struggling for words.  It was like nothing I had experienced before.  I gained my composure and focused on completing the tasks I was assigned during training.  Once we reached the designated altitude I pulled the chute.

Things slowed down and we settled in for the “slow” descent.  I focused on trying to enjoy the view but my instructor had a different idea.  He decided to show me a more exciting descent and started pulling quick turns and corkscrews not knowing that I experience motion sickness.  Before I knew it I was feeling horrible and could not get back to the ground soon enough.  Eventually we got to the ground, landed smoothly, and it was over.  I felt horrible.  James asked me how it was and I felt bad but I told him that initially it was good but after deploying the chute I was miserable.  He apologized and told me that I should have said something. He said he could have slowed things down and made for a slower descent.  We headed back to the hanger and I reflected on the experience. 

I had really wanted to enjoy skydiving but my nervousness and motion sickness had wrought havoc on the experience. Originally I had assumed that I was going to make two jumps on this excursion.   I had not expected to not enjoy the first jump.  I decided to take some time to relax and think things through.  Over the next few hours I wrestled with the decision and eventually decided to give it another shot. 

I registered for another jump and thankfully did not have to go through the waiver process again. After a short wait, I met with James again and he assured me that we would take things easier this time.  He gave me instructions on what we would need to accomplish on this jump.  We boarded the plane and while I was nervous, it was nothing like I had experienced earlier.  It came time to jump and it was exhilarating.  I was much more relaxed and took in the feeling of just falling.  It was intoxicating and I had broken though a barrier.  Once again it came time to pull the chute and the rest of the ride went smoothly.  We landed and I was pumped, nothing beats the feeling of overcoming a limitation. 

I learned a lot that day.  Not only did I face a known limitation but I pushed through one that had caught me off guard.  It was a lot to process and I was physically, mentally, and emotionally drained but the chance to fall again cannot come soon enough.  I just need to find the secret to overcoming financial barriers.

On another note, if you are looking to skydive I cannot recommend Skydive Spaceland Atlanta enough.  Everything from the facilities to the staff is top notch.  Their service is outstanding and they go out of their way to make sure you develop a passion for skydiving.  I highly recommend taking advantage of camping on site and enjoying the beautiful location and the staff’s hospitality. 

-Todd Sharp