From the Vault: Fear of Flying
This blog was originally posted on March 23, 2011…
I recently celebrated my 30th birthday and was fortunate enough to have a group of friends who were willing to indulge me in my goal: to explore my fear of heights. Well, more specifically, falling. No, you crazy people, I didn’t skydive. That’s just insane. And, I definitely do not have the cajones for that. We took a private flying trapeze class!
I had no qualms about turning 30, or what that represented; I don’t see 30 as having any negative connotations at all! But I rarely celebrate my birthday in big style, and I figured this was a good one to do. I wanted to do something that defined the way that I want to continue to try to challenge myself and push myself in the years to come. I’ve always said that the only limitations are the ones that you put on yourself, and it was time for me to prove it.
I’ve had a love affair with aerial circus arts for a few years now. I’ve taken silks, lyra, and static trapeze; however I always looked with longing at the brave souls throwing themselves (ok, more like stepping off) that high platform, twisting and twirling in the air, landing so lightly and confidently on the net below. Everyone I knew who had taken a class recommended that I try it, with glowing eyes and huge smiles. It seemed impossible to NOT have fun.
On a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning, we found ourselves at the amazing Circus Warehouse facility in Long Island City in Queens NYC. And two hours passed in the absolute blink of an eye: I can’t recall laughing as hard as I did that day, as we all worked to find our wings (and coordination) on this new apparatus. My face hurt, and I actually cried with laughter: watching everyone else go was nearly as fun as going myself!
Every time it was my turn, I would find myself experiencing complete abject fear as I climbed the ladder up to the platform, leaned out to grab the bar, and made an incredibly ungainly hop off of it to get airborne. Every time, I ended up screaming for one whole swing, completely unable to control my vocal chords or my instincts that screamed at me: VERY BAD IDEA! But strangely enough, while stepping off the platform was a mental battle each time, letting go of the bar mid-flight was a joyous, amazing experience: true free-fall, somersaulting in air, with the cheers of friends cushioning your landing. The adrenaline rush is incredible, and thanks to the very capable hands of the staff, I felt safe.
I think that I can honestly say that I did much better than I could have expected in my wildest dreams. I may have shrieked like my life depended on it, but as I made that step into plain air, I was telling myself: you are putting your mind to this, you are able to do this, and you will be able to stay safe because you have the strength to hold on. Because the staff saw that we were an abnormally fit and coordinated group (all pole dancers, of course) they challenged us with tricks that they said they’ve never shown first-timer flyers. And guess what? Even the staff was astonished at the abilities they saw in us!
In life, in pole dancing, we need to remind ourselves of this. We are all people who are evolving, growing, and transforming every day. Our experiences, the challenges we face, and how we react to them, shape us and make us who we are. Don’t let fear hold you back. Don’t sell yourself short. And every once in a while, you may surprise yourself.
The video of my fourth and final swing is below: a double somersault, complete with sound effects… so turn down your speakers if you’re at all sensitive to high-pitched noises. You can actually hear my instructor laughing in the background at how ridiculous my scream is… =)
Tomorrow’s post: From the Vault- Happy Pants Dance…