Ever been on a rope course? I have, once, when I was thirteen and it was one of the scariest things I had to do in my life. I’m pretty clumsy when it comes to most physical activities and I’m not so good with heights, either. So asking me to (repel) down a length of rope while strapped to a harness is kind of like asking me to stand on my head and hold my breath for as long as I can- not impossible, but most likely not going to happen.
But there I was anyway, somehow having been coerced up there and now I was faced with having to glide from one tree to another and I was freaking terrified. The pressure was on. Everyone was yelling at me, encouraging me. I almost started crying.
One of the teachers was already over on the other side. “You gotta keep on going or you’re going have to find another way to get down,” he called.
In that moment, something inside me shifted. I looked down and it was far. Like really far. And there was no way I was going to attempt the descent myself. I looked over at the teacher who had called out to me, at the length of rope suspended in the air before me. There was no way out except to do it, no matter how scared I felt about it.
And that’s kind of like a lot of things that we’re scared of in life: they’re inevitable and most of the time the only way through is forward, even if it means confronting the unknown, or taking a risk. We can kick or scream or cry in front of our classmates but our reaction changes nothing; the problem will always be there until we work through it.
I was faced with a choice: move forward or remained trapped on a tiny wooden platform forty feet in the air. Neither option appealed to me but being trapped up there seemed far more awful than zip-lining between two trees. One option would move me forward, the other would leave me stuck.
You can choose to let your fear take over until it brings you to a standstill, or you can acknowledge the fear for what it is- just an emotion- and continue on with your life. You may be surprised to find that things weren’t as bad as you anticipated.
As for me? I zip-lined down that rope and screamed the entire way. When I got to the other end, I was shaking but happy. I had just done something scary and survived. Nothing had changed except that I was one step closer to my destination and I was getting braver, so brave that I didn’t look down or back and instead found myself only facing forward.
In this day and age we place so many demands ourselves that sometimes even going about our day-to-day lives is exhausting. As a person who likes to keep busy, I find myself struggling to stay balanced. You can follow my journey here, or click here or here to find more ways to streamline your life to keep it simple.
What are some of the ways that you stay balanced? Give us your advice below, or email your strategies to firstname.lastname@example.org.