I never really go out my comfort zone much. I mean, I guess you could say I do in a way. If in that way we mean my comfort zone is sat in bed with my dog and my laptop, and the big wide world outside is my uncomfortable zone! I do challenge my anxieties on a daily basis on a small scale, but never on a bigger scale where I really have to feel the fear and do it anyway.
So I decided to do exactly that, feel the fear and do it anyway. And this was in the form of the UKs longest zip wire, at Adrenaline Quarry. To fly off a cliff on a wire at 40mph, 50 metres in the air, and zip wire across a lake for 490 metres, is quite a daunting prospect for me. And for most people I presume.
I dragged my whole family, and my best friend, to do this nerve-wracking zip wire, and was feeling very positive about achieving it for the week before we went. I knew I wanted to say that I had done it, and I wanted to enjoy every minute of doing something because I wanted to, and not being crippled with fear. Even on the 45 minute drive to the Quarry, I was feeling extremely positive, with no nerves and a can-do attitude.
However, when I arrived at the Quarry, and saw the length and height of the zip wire, and the fact that you had to effectively throw yourself off a cliff, my fear set in. My can-do attitude had gone. I shut down. I immediately said I didn’t think I could do it, and I didn’t want to. And I resigned myself to sitting out, and to missing out. My family were shocked, as I had been so excited.
As I watched my family and friends fly down the zip wire, laughing and enjoying themselves, part of me wished I was brave enough to do it and to just challenge my fear, but part of me really believed that I couldn’t do it.
I know how lucky I am to have such supportive and encouraging family and friends, and to have people around me who know that my anxiety is not rational and to know that really, I don’t want to give in to it. They encouraged me to see what it felt like standing on top of the cliff in my harness, and just to feel how it felt, before making a decision against it that I would regret.
For me, this was becoming much more than just a zip wire. It was a metaphor for the fear in my life. On the one hand I was acting out how I always had done, saying no and giving in. But on the other hand, I wanted to challenge it, and wanted to push my fears and not give in to them and let them take over me. Why should I not do what I want in my life?
I stepped into the harness tentatively, with shaking legs, and with the use of several expletives!
I stood on top of the cliff with a whole body that felt as if it were made of jelly, and with more expletives.
And then I did it. I had a push from the man who was operating the zip wire, but that’s what I needed to realise I was ok. And I did it. And I loved it! The zip wire was exhilarating and enjoyable, but what was more exciting, was the feeling I felt knowing that I had conquered a fear, knowing how close I had been to giving in to my anxiety.
I am so proud of myself for pushing myself to my limit (or getting someone else to give me a slight push in the right direction). I know that I can achieve things if I work through my anxiety. I know I can live a happy life if I keep pushing through it, and trying new things. I am also so grateful that I have such supportive family and friends, who know how to build me up when I need it, and to support me through my anxiety. It’s taken us a while to get to this understanding, and it’s taken me years and years to believe in myself enough to trust that I can do whatever I set my mind to, but here I am; I am proving to myself that I can do whatever I set my mind to.