how to: free fall

This post was originally shared on an earlier version of The City Girl's Guide. The people, places and feelings mentioned or associated with this post are from August of 2015...

It’s a long day living in Reseda…is something I would say if I was Tom Petty or John Mayer. Instead, I’m just me, living in and out of the city, loving my mama and America too. But I’ve also experienced a bit of guilt lately from thinking about things left behind, the broken hearts that followed and a dream that got me thinking about thinking less and doing more. Keep reading for my latest epiphany and why it’s good to be scared sometimes...

Last week I woke up from a dream that had me simultaneously rattled and relieved. In the dream, I was on a plane and about to skydive tandem with a childhood friend I actually haven’t spoken to in years. The whole time I was telling myself not to be scared because I was just going to jump and freefall and there was nothing to overthink.

In case you didn’t know, I am mildly afraid of heights which is a fear I have acquired as I have become older. Instead of having more experiences and knowing more about the world, there a few things I have become increasingly reluctant to expose myself to and I blame that entirely on the lack of control involved in any scenario that involves these things. Heights, pitch blackness and overall failure round out the list but jumping out of a plane is definitely in the top five. Or was.

I found that once I woke up from the dream and was able to realize that free falling into nothing was not quite the daredevil act I had always made it to be (and that it ultimately ends in some kind of landing,) I realized that there has been a lot of fear in growing up and that it is more of an artificially constructed corral that keeps us from learning things about ourselves we might not have otherwise tried. Since then, I have tried things and been places without reservation. The key part to remember here is that while I was still ambivalent (and sometimes even scared), I’m no longer going to let fear or the unknown keep me from finding out more about myself or the possibilities that await me.

As a twenty-something, one of the most common (and poorly articulated fears) is greatness. Two questions I know I have asked myself frequently and in not so many words are, “What if I’m really bad at this?” and “What if I’m really good at this?”. The saddest part is that we don’t ask ourselves the latter enough. We tend to assume that failure is the only option when self-doubt is our default mode. The skills and talents we have curated through years of schooling and experiences don’t register in our heads in any kind of organized inventory we can stop our panicked minds to be proud of and we presume that we are not adequately prepared enough for the person we want to be. But we really need to cut that out.

It’s true, the skills and talents we posses are not enough to make us the CEO of our dream company right out of college. They might not even qualify us to be the front desk receptionist. But, with enough of a push, our experiences can be what get us to jump out of the plane in the first place, write our names in the sky and free fall out into nothin’.