I have finally gotten down to write about my bungee jumping experience in Phuket last year recently. Some of my friends asked me if I were scared. Frankly speaking, if ‘wetting’ pant is a social norm, I would have wetted my pant. So why did I do it if I was scared? I guess the need (yes, I had been thinking about bungee jumping for many years and had reflected to friends about my desire) to experience the feeling of jumping from a platform, the feeling of that split second fall, the thrill and excitement all added up and conquered my fear of going for the jump. When I was up there standing at the edge of the jumping platform, I did not think too much, I just hurled myself out and away from the platform as instructed.
Fear was not able to stop me that day, as it sometimes did. Most of us, if not all, have some kind of fears. A lot of my friends have fear of height. Some people have fear of drowning. Fear occurs in different forms and varies in different degree to different people.
I believe that most of us have heard of Richard Branson and his adventures. In case if you haven’t, Richard Branson (pardon me it’s Sir Richard Branson) is the man behind the Virgin. I only got to know more about him recently when I read two of his books, ‘Losing My Virginity‘ and ‘Screw It, Let’s Do It.’
In one of his adventures shared in ‘Screw it, Let’s Do It’; he and Per Lindstrand became the first to cross the Atlantic in a hot-air balloon. However, they did not know how to land. They faced the danger of crashing and burning with the leftover full fuel tanks. When they finally managed to do away with the fuel tanks, their hot-air balloon became too light and shot up into the sky, out of control. Their plan B was to land on the beach where they won’t hurt people but they missed the beach because of thick fog. Per Lindstrand eventually jumped into the stormy sea from 56 feet up. Sir Richard Branson was alone in the hot-air balloon and was carried towards Scotland. He jumped into the grey sea eventually and was picked up from the icy water by helicopter which was out searching for him. Per Lindstand was also in the sea for hours and was rescued just before he froze to death.
Did he not know what fear is? Or maybe he did. As he shared in his book, ‘Screw It, Let’s Do It,’ “… no one had ever flown that far in a balloon before. It was mad. It was too risky … What would happen if I died?” However, he shared that he couldn’t resist a challenge and the chance to try something new. Probably that was how I felt too when I took the jump last year. I wouldn’t compare my little feat with his adventures but I do see a slight similarity. I too, look upon my fear as a challenge.
“Always do what you are afraid to do.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Just like the quotation above, I want to do what I am afraid to do. The more I fear, the more I want to do it as long as the things that I planned on doing do not cause harm to others or to myself. I had previously shared about my fear in public speaking or presentation a few years back. Back then, I was practically thrown into the position to make presentation to a group of audience on stage. I was not ready and I had never done it before. I had jelly legs and the first presentation did not go exactly how I wanted it to be.
Was it a failure? Yes, as long as I chose to give it up totally. Before one can be really good at something, one has to start taking the first step. As the saying, “A journey of a thousand miles begin with a first step“; we must be prepared to take the first step and learnt from it. One can never be ready to do something. One can be well prepared, but one cannot be ready. I continued to put myself in the position to make presentation until a point of time where I was making presentation to a group of audiences about the size of 50-60 comfortably and engaging them at the same time. Have I conquered my fear of public speaking? I have not completely, I just acknowledged its presence, face it squarely and co-exist with fear.
How would you respond to fear? Different folks different strokes. What is more important is that it must work for you. Whichever way one may choose, one has to first acknowledged the presence of fear and then face it. Last but not least, I would like to share with you one last thing that Sir Richard Branson said from his book, ‘Screw It, Let’s Do It‘; “… whatever it is you want to achieve in life, if you don’t make the effort, you won’t reach your goal. So take that first step. There will be challenges. You might get knocked back – but in the end, you will make it.” Have faith in yourself and move on fearlessly.
“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” — Marie Curie
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