Recently my wife and I went to the Sand Hollow State Park in St. George, Utah, USA. It’s a beautiful state park that we enjoyed immensely. But one activity in particular had a deep impact for me, cliff jumping.
For some quick context I am terrified of heights. While climbing the trail to Angel’s Landing in Zion’s National Park, Utah, USA I was glued to the ground the entire way and spent the entire time waiting to go back down. I get vertigo looking off of high bridges, skyscrapers, etc.
So, the idea of going to Sand Hollow to jump off the cliff did not sound like a fun time. But I cave easily to peer pressure from my wife, so I found myself watching as kid after kid jumped off the cliff and into the water.
Seeing the teenagers and even younger kids jump off made me feel a little better about it and after my wife jumped, I felt like that was something I could do. So, Maddie got out the GoPro and I climbed up to the top of the cliff.
Standing on the edge looking down into the water I had a mix of emotions. Logically I knew there was very little risk, I just watched a bunch of little kids jump off and into the water with no ill side effects, but some deep primal fear would make me scurry away from the edge.
My wife is a very patient woman and she lovingly recorded a good dozen or so twenty second videos of me nodding that I was going to jump, get close to the edge, hesitate, and then step back so someone else could jump.
I even considered jumping off a smaller one but changed my mind because I wanted to get past this fear. I wanted to stop letting it hold me back from doing supposedly fun things like mountain climbing, sky diving, paragliding, hot air ballooning and so on.
So, I climbed up to the top of the cliff, looked over the edge, felt the fear wash over me, and then stepped off.
It was a two second fall but felt much longer than that. There was a point as I was falling that I internally (thankfully not externally) screamed out in panic that I hadn’t hit the water yet. This was exacerbated by the fact that my wife shouted at me not to jump right as I had stepped off.
Thankfully it was nothing, a little kid she thought was getting too close had turned out wasn’t in the way and I plunged into the cold water with no problem. My backside was sore because I fell in a sitting position, but it paled to the disbelief and swelling pride over the fact that I had just jumped. I had acknowledged a fear I’ve had since childhood and chose to jump anyway.
This entire scenario may sound silly, but there are fears many of us face every single day that prevent us from doing things that will benefit us and improve our lives in some way. There may be some of you that want to travel, but are terrified to do so because of news reports, horror stories, or just personal insecurities.
Others may want to live a remote lifestyle but are terrified of looking for a new job or leaving the comfort of their old one. Some may want to relocate to another country but worry that it’ll be a horrible mistake.
That’s no different than me standing on top of the cliff watching kid after kid jump off. Log on to any social media site and you’ll be bombarded with thousands of pictures of people traveling, living abroad, and earning a living working remotely. Young single adults, newlyweds, families with young children, empty nesters, older folks and so on.
There are some rational fears that shouldn’t be ignored. I could have hit the side of the cliff somehow, landed on that little kid, passed out and sank into the water, or a number of different scenarios.
You might struggle financially, you might get mugged, you might hate where you go, hate the work you’re doing, or find your marriage struggling after moving your family to another place.
But you could also love it. You could thrive in a new culture, experience things you never would have from the comfort of your couch back home, your marriage could become stronger, and your kids could become more capable. Most importantly you could avoid a life of regret if you didn’t at least try.
I’m not saying you should close your eyes and leap or try out a 600 ft. cliff to see if you’ll like it. There are dangers out there and things you need to prepare for and be aware of. But don’t let fear stop you from doing what hundreds of thousands of people are doing every year and having an absolute blast.
It may not go as planned and there may be some setbacks. I had a gnarly bruise on my backside because of how I hit the water and I was so obsessed with the jump I forgot to put on sunscreen and got a bad sunburn.
But never let fear stop you from doing what you want to be doing and what could dramatically improve your life. Step close to the edge, analyze the risks, take note of others that are already doing it, acknowledge the fear, and then step off anyway.
Even if you wind up getting a little scuffed up along the way I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.
Guest Author: Ben Baker
After serving abroad in a religious capacity for two years Ben has felt the pull to travel and explore ever since. This desire was further fueled by his wife Maddie and the two have traveled to many places over the last few years. Ben’s hope is that by sharing his knowledge and experiences obtained while traveling that others can improve their lives and the lives of others through travel. Check out additional articles written by Benjamin.