Traveling across the world to New Zealand as a teenager enlightened my narrow minded view of the world. It taught me patience, opened my eyes to the world around me and instilled the confidence I lacked. I found a sense of adventure through rappelling that stays with me today.
Me Me Me
I’m sixteen. I am at that age of reckless behaviors and knowing the importance of social connections. I was dragged out of my little social group at home and forced to do a student ambassador trip in Fiji, New Zealand and Australia (the fact that I had begged my parents to let me go the year before is entirely irrelevant). I am selfish. I am self centered. I am eager to please but even more eager to impress (in typical teenage mindset, all of these sentences start with I!).
So when we were learning how to rappel, I instantly volunteered to go first. I don’t know why. I am not particularly coordinated. This is not the movies. And I did not gracefully glide down the mountain while maintaining composure.
How I got there
That morning, our tour bus dropped off the eager group of students onto the green lawns of Full On. Full On is a company that strives to build character and confidence in teenagers. It is fun, upbeat and allowed us to step outside of our comfort zones. We started in a class, addressing the concept of fear and how to overcome it. They let us wander the room of inspirational quotes and write down what they meant to us. Then they threw us into an adventure of fun, of climbing and swinging and rappelling.
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” – Paulo Coelho
Our first task was to repel down the side of a cliff. They had us line up on the dock that leaned over the edge. They effortlessly demonstrated how they would connect the rope to our harness then we would step back and simply step back off the edge and down the side of the cliff. Nothing to it. No wonder I volunteered to go first.
We had already been fitted with helmets and harnesses so the only thing left to do was to tie me to the rope and give me some basic instructions. It was about at this point, when I could see how high up we were, that I realized I had made a grave mistake.
“Take a step back … one more… one more BIG step….” he told me as I tip toed backwards, certain I would fall off the edge.
“OK, now lean back over the edge…. kind of sit in it. Good. Now push off”
My feet were on the edge of the dock and my hands securely on the rope as instructed. Certainly if I pushed off the dock then I would just swing back in and hit my head on it…. the cliff was so far below.
“So… I just… uh… jump?”
“Yep. Just jump, we will do the rest.”
I am not a count to three kind of girl. The longer I wait, the harder it gets, and the more likely I am to chicken out. Despite the fact that I love the adrenaline rush, I have to actively trick my brain into jumping when I am not ready.
Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it. Just….
And without a thought I pushed myself off the edge, soaring for one glorious moment before my feet gracefully connected with the edge of the mountain, adrenaline racing through my veins. The friends I had been working on making, stood above me and cheered on my success. I giggled giddily as the photographer told me to strike a pose before bouncing off the wall the rest of the way down.
Ive always been an adrenaline junkie. But I loved experiencing the fear that I overcame that day in New Zealand.
What has been you’re greatest adrenaline rush in another country? Let me know in the comments below!