Taking The Leap

Taking The Leap | Darling Magazine

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the belief that something else is more important than fear.” –Meg Cabot

It’s barely past ten in the morning when I place my toes at the edge of a highwire platform suspended 134 meters above the Nevis River Valley in the Southern Alps, just outside of Queenstown, New Zealand. I am trying not to look down as The Killers reach the chorus of “Mr. Brightside” on the radio in the background. A man I’ve just met five minutes ago commands me to jump. Without thinking, I stick out my arms and leap.

It’s easier to be fearless when we are young. The world brims with possibilities, and we tackle the unknown with an audacity tempered only by the watchful eyes of our parents. As we get older, our attitudes start to shift. Reasoning replaces risk-taking, and what once seemed mysterious and magical appears dangerous in its unfamiliarity. We become fearful of leaving the comfort of our habits, worried about losing what we have worked so hard to build. Too often, we forego opportunities because we are afraid the costs outweigh the benefits. We get stuck.

Breaking the pattern doesn’t require heavenly bravery, just the decision to choose faith over fear. To make that decision we must practice, and one of the best ways to practice is to dust off our bucket lists and attempt the feats we’ve always imagined. Conquering these challenges may seem arbitrary, but when we prove to ourselves we can handle the stuff of our craziest dreams, we open up to new possibilities and rekindle our childlike wonder for the world. We can handle anything.

The first time I stepped up to the ledge of the bungee jump, I couldn’t do it. When it came down to the final moment my mind tangled up my body, and I almost missed out on what is now one of, if not the biggest, adventure in my life. The bungee jump operator’s words propelled me forward.

“You’re waiting to not be afraid,” he said. “And that’s never going to happen. If you want this, it’s there for you. But you have to jump through the fear.”

It’s not about bungee jumping or skydiving or climbing mountains. It’s about freeing ourselves from our preordained limits. Maybe it’s traveling out of the country, or traveling alone. Maybe it’s ditching our weekend plans for an impromptu road trip. Maybe it’s simply biking to work instead of driving. The nuances of our lists don’t matter; what is important is that we push our boundaries to defy even our own expectations.

Our fears will never disappear. Each day brings new anxieties or the return of old ones, but also new opportunities to overcome them. When we have learned how to let go, we are equipped with the courage to face these day-to-day fears. After all, practice makes perfect.

Kim is a San Francisco-based freelance writer who loves meeting new people and sharing their stories.

6 COMMENTS
  • Natalie (@fashionatalie) April 21, 2013

    Love this, Kim! So many good phrases to tuck away.

  • Kim Fortson April 17, 2013

    Rachel, Kristin, Teresa and Amy – thank you for your words! It’s so exciting to hear you ladies are taking leaps in your every day lives. Keep at it! 🙂

  • Amy April 17, 2013

    “Breaking the pattern doesn’t require heavenly bravery, just the decision to choose faith over fear.”

    Moving piece! I’m lucky to have such a wise friend. 🙂

  • Teresa April 17, 2013

    Loved this! The bungee instructor was so right – we wait to ‘not be afraid’, but that’s not going to happen. The courage to stop dwelling and jump through our fears is hard to summon sometimes. Thanks for the inspiration, Kim.

  • Kristin April 17, 2013

    Ahh I loved this piece! Recently I came to a crossroads. I knew the decision had to be made but I was waiting for the “right moment” to come before I took that leap. Well, I realized that moment didn’t exist. It was now or never. So I bit the bullet and made the change I needed to make. I have no idea what is on the other side of this but I know there is more out there for me. This really really hit home. I feel like I need to print and carry this with me for every time I start to fear what may come next. I have to let go and have faith that better things are to come when I step outside of my comfort zone.

  • RACHEL GOLD April 16, 2013

    Bungee jumping was absolutely one of the high points in my life. When I feel overwhelmed or anxiety-ridden about my future, I remember that I have indeed “jumped through fear”… and lived to tell.

    In the grand scheme of things, we really don’t have long on this beautiful little planet. Thank you for this post, and reminding us not to get caught up in any negativity directed at ourselves. There is SO much amazing possibility ahead each day. Take a deep breath and move forward with confidence 🙂

    xo
    Rachel
    live what you love … and love where you live !
    http://www.facebook.com/thehappyspace

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