A personal account of the struggles to live with a fear of heights.
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Student Life

The Limitations and Frustrations of Having A Fear of Heights

The struggles of living with an unconquerable fear.

Sky scrapers

I blame genetics for my fear of heights. Not necessarily because I have scientific evidence of that, but because I have no memory of a poignant event or traumatizing moment that initiated this fear. Certainly, if I did, I would remember. After all, I do remember a number of instances throughout my life in which this fear was actualized.

The most recent of these memories took place in my college apartment, about three months ago. Spring semester had ended, and once again, it was time to pack up my things and move out of that year's apartment. In the process of cleaning my room and collecting my belongings, I decided to clean the filters in my vacuum. Not wanting to make the short, but tedious trip downstairs, I opened one of the apartment windows and beat the filters against the side of the building. Everything was fine until I heard the slam of a car door and looked down into the parking lot. The height of all three stories hit me at once. A dizzying sensation flooded my head, my limbs tingled weightlessly and my breath was taken hostage by my lungs. I dazedly leaned back into my apartment with a dirty vacuum filter in hand and shut the window.

This strange and debilitating sensation is one I'm all too familiar with. Just thinking about it now— as I'm sitting in my ground-floor room typing—makes me a little nauseous. It's insane that a fear of something that's not even present has such a significant effect on me. What makes it worse is the fact that I can't just magically overcome this fear by facing it. Trust me, I've tried. On numerous occasions, I've nervously boarded a rollercoaster or stepped to the edge of a high balcony in an attempt to possibly acclimate myself to heights.

Unsplash- Apartment Building

In one such instance, I agreed to join a small group of friends and family on a helium balloon ride. Unlike conventional hot air balloons, this one was anchored to the ground by a thick steel cable. The presence of this anchor inspired a false sense of confidence in me which soon dissipated as we climbed higher and higher into the sky. Soon, we were hovering 400 feet in the air. As the attendant located points of interest, he encouraged our party to walk around the balloon's base and take in the full view of the landscape below. As the rest of my party shuffled about the balloon's base, I curled up against its side, clinging to the safety rail for dear life. I don't recall how long we stayed up in the air, but I remember seeing the ground through the steel-grated floor of the base. At the time, I couldn't help but wonder if we would ever touch the ground again. It seemed impossibly far away, so much so that when we finally landed I felt like I was stepping into a dream.

Possibly the most difficult part of living with a fear of heights is trying to explain it to others. Acknowledging that my fear is irrational, but having no power to do anything about it is frustrating and confusing even for me. So, I get why people who don't have this fear find it hard to understand. What I have more trouble with is the fact that some people can't or don't even try to sympathize with my fear of heights. And, when I say sympathize, I'm not asking for people to step in my shoes so much as respect my personal limits.

At the end of the day, everyone is afraid of something. And regardless of whether those fears are rational or irrational, they're significant to the people who bear them. Therefore, moving forward, we should all try to be more respectful of people's personal fears and limits.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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