We have all seen those inspirational quotes on walls. They're in colleges, in advising offices, you're guaranteed to see more than 15 if you walk into any elementary, middle or high school. We read them when we're bored. We don't think much of them. They say, "You can do it!" Or "Do something that scares you" with a generic mountain in the background. A personal favorite is the one that every teacher simultaneously seems to have in their classroom. It has a turtle and it says something along the lines of, "Slow and steady wins the race."
It's as if all K-12 teachers are in some underground inspirational poster organization.
These quotes are great, in theory, if we all lived by them, we'd do everything we ever wanted to do. There's another part of success, another part about trying things that scare us, that we don't talk a lot about.
Inspirational speakers don't really start their speeches by saying "Do something that scares you- And by that I mean something that is panic-attack inducing, will make you feel like your gonna die, makes you questions your life decisions leading up to that point, makes you cry, makes you literally tremble, but will in the long term be an amazing and special part of your journey."
Ok, I'll use a generic, but, personal experience here. I went zip lining. What did I tell my friends and family?? I told them that it was amazing. I told them I'd love to do it again. In fact, I told them I was even considering becoming a zip-line instructor bc my experience was -just that good-.
Oh, and I told them about the lady who was in line in front of me. The one that was bawling her eyes out. The one who in her moment of despair confessed "I have kids at home. I'm too young to die." I kid you not. That's what she said verbatim.
The zipline instructors were very helpful and kind. They talked her through her anxiety and told her she didn't have to go if she didn't want to, but that she was already hooked up so it would be a great time to go and get over her fears. Despite their encouragement, she wasn't ready.
She ultimately decided not to go. The instructors ultimately decided she should... and pushed her off!!
There she went! It wasn't much longer before the tears were flying again. This time at 100 mph down line.
For everyone's safety, nobody went until she was on the other side. Some say it's it protocol, I say, it was to protect us from getting harmed by those fast flying tears. My turn was coming up sooner than I would've liked it to. If an adult woman had that kind reaction to it, how was I supposed to have a chance??
*cue internal hyperventilation*
One girl left before it was my turn. Everything in me told me to run as fast as I could, down the stairs and back to safety. Sometimes when I'm on the internet on campus, I click on a website link, and a button pops up that says "Back to safety." I click on it and I'm safe. Oh, how I wished this button existed for real life. I knew that if by some miracle I made to the second landing post, the only way down would be to do the rest of the 6 lines. My mind was racing. How many people a year die on ziplines? Close to none? Whoever made that statistic is a liar.
Nonetheless, I had to try zip lining. I'd always wanted to do it and this was my opportunity. One by one the girls went. Then it was my turn. I didn't cry, but I did scream.. of excitement!!
I came to find I loved the feeling of air whipping through my hair. It was a way to experience the forest that's one of a kind. A kind of way that was beautiful and exhilarating.
When I caught up with the woman who was in front of me, I found she was no longer crying. She said she would pay to do the whole course again!
Zip lining is a lot like doing things we're scared of. The fear can be overwhelming, but if we can push through it, doing that thing could turn out to be one of our best experiences.