Published: May 19, 2014
"I can't skydive. I'm afraid of heights."
When we tell people we're skydivers, we hear that all the time...and we can't help thinking that those folks are cheating themselves. Seriously.
If you've found your way to this blog, you're probably seriously considering a tandem skydive. (We hope you're considering jumping with us just south of Salt Lake City!) If you're considering throwing out the idea over some silly sentence about how you're scared of high places, don't. That sentence is certainly one of many that are keeping you from your full human potential, and you can take this opportunity to start to overcome them all.
We'd like to help. If you need a little bucking-up to get on that plane, here are five things you can do:
1. See worry for what it actually is.
Worry is a fervent prayer for something you don't want, and the fact of the matter is that tandem skydiving has never been safer than it is today. (If you're uncertain, check out the actual statistics on skydiving safety, linked here.) You are fearful of a fantasy -- of a nightmare that doesn't exist in any statistically significant way.
2. See the big picture.
The argument could be made that a skydive is a small thing. It's a couple of minutes of a lifetime, after all -- a handful of beautiful, intense moments.
It is not, as anyone who has done it can tell you, actually a small thing. It's a life-changing thing. In the heart, it's huge.
It's also a big deal to give up on the idea of doing something just because it scares you, for example: starting your own business, asking somebody to marry you, learning to ride a motorcycle, speaking in front of an audience, publishing a book, or jumping out of a plane with a parachute. Taking action against your fears has a life-affirming, confidence-crystallizing effect that really does change your life. Showing up for your skydive is the kind of thing that ignites your personal power, no matter how small a step it might (or might not) seem.
3. Get proactive.
If you're super-nervous about your tandem skydive, you need to convert that negative energy into positive, forward momentum by getting comfortable in the space. Are you scared because you don't know what it's going to be like? Great! Get excited about finding out. If you're scared because you're the kind of person who likes to be in control, ask your instructor to go over the details of freefall and canopy flight, and express and interest in helping to pilot the canopy.
4. Surround yourself with friends.
For extra support, take to the skies with the people that love you -- your friends and family. Not only is it calming to have familiar faces in the plane, but you'll share a high-five feeling with them that will last for years. (Bonus: Skydive the Wasatch does group tandem skydiving deals here in Utah!)
5. See the light at the end of the tunnel.
When you look around our drop zone, you'll see a bunch of sport skydivers. Some will be laughing. Some will be ravenously tearing into sandwiches while they wait for their next plane to go up. Some will be embroiled in the process of packing parachutes. Some will be staring into their phones. Some will be relaxing on couches, limbs draped easily over the armrests. None will be silently chewing their fingernails, faces green with terror, ready to scream bloody murder at a moment's notice.
According to some recent experiments by Howard Hughes Medical Institute, they've "learned safety." You will, too, if you continue on in skydiving. In the study, the mice were trained through reward to feel secure and behave calmly in situations that would normally stress them out. The conditioning was shown to be as effective as Prozac. Pretty cool, huh? The take-away: that feeling of delight and accomplishment that follows a skydive is a powerful "happy drug" -- with no chemicals required -- that helps normal people battle fear and become calmer, happier human beings.