Yesterday was February 29th, or leap day. To celebrate, I jumped (or, “leapt,”) off the tallest structure in New Zealand. Taller than the Eiffel Tower, the Seattle Space Needle, and the Sydney Tower (Take THAT, Australia! …yes, the rivalry has already begun…), the Sky Tower is truly an architectural marvel that powerfully looms over the city of Auckland and will never fail in leaving me awestruck whenever it enters my line of vision. Performing the Sky Jump, a base jump by wire from a few floors above the Observation Deck, is something that I have wanted to do since I was an annoying eight year old. At that time, I was very deeply offended that safety laws prevented me from throwing myself off of the massive structure. Feeling jilted, I watched my parents leap, silently promising that I would return someday and take back what was so wrongfully (rightfully) taken from me!
So when the opportunity arose to not only study abroad for a semester in the self-same city where I made this solemn vow over a decade ago, you can bet that the Sky Jump was one of the foremost reasons why I knew I had to make my return to the city of Auckland, New Zealand! Further, when I realized that I was studying here on a leap year, and that my first day of classes would be on leap day, it was as if my fate were written in the stars: I was going to leap on leap day! However, I soon discovered how much of a “big-talker,” I am, as once the reservation was made, suddenly I became a lot more hesitant to carry out my dream. Would I freeze up or chicken out when the time came? Should I eat breakfast that morning, or would that be a tragic error? And, always, the most irrational fears seem to enter one’s mind at the last moment: “I know no one has died doing this, but what if they forget to clip me in just right?” I could almost see my epitaph: “She died as she lived: Stubbornly ignoring all reason.”
These thoughts, doubts, and excuses made me connect this life choice to other choices I have made in my relatively short time on this mortal coil. What if this literal “leap” was a metaphor for other, more personal “leaps” I have made in the past? What made this leap different than those other leaps, when sometimes there was just as much, if not more, risk involved in being daring enough to put my heart, dignity, or reputation on the line?
I generally run away from conflict. I don’t like a fight, but I’m also unafraid to take care of business when I need to. Sadly, however, when these instances arise, I tend to get very agitated and emotional, which usually ends with me either shaking in fury or crying inflammatory tears to assuage the rage. I also suffer from crippling social awkwardness. I’m a social introvert, meaning that I am unafraid to speak in crowds, perform, or voice an opinion, but also crave my own personal space and can get easily drained by large, social experiences. I absolutely despise icebreakers and small talk in, “getting to know you” circumstances. Perhaps that’s why in only two years of college, having to go through three separate orientations has been a legitimate hell on earth for me.
Furthermore, I don’t like putting myself in situations where I can get hurt, although I’m not sure that anyone does. However, it seems as though the majority of the population can handle getting hurt far better than I can! If I must be in these circumstances, I often riddle everything I say with profuse apologies even though I’ve done nothing wrong or unwarranted, or I instinctively state, “it’s totally okay if you [insert thing that would totally break my heart and hurt my feelings so I can circumvent the surprise of you actually doing it].” Even something as mundane and forgiveable as entering the wrong room for a meeting is a massive anxiety for me. Nothing is more terrifying than being the first person in a room when you are entering an unfamiliar group or situation!
But this is very important to anyone out there who feels as I do: always, ALWAYS take the leap. Never once when I’ve decided to toss caution to the wind have I ended up regretting it. Yes, I have been burned, heartbroken, or maybe even made a fool of because of it, but I’ve always learned more from these moments than regretted them. Still not convinced? Observe the following examples from my very recent past:
- EXAMPLE 1 – Seeing Johnny Depp at the Dolby Theatre:
A few months ago, I had the strange and sudden opportunity to see a live interview with actor Johnny Depp and director Scott Cooper from the 2015 film Black Mass as a part of the 2015 AFI Fest. As Johnny Depp is one of the first actors to get me hooked on cinema and the company I was interning for at the time had produced Black Mass, it seemed to be the perfect recipe for a fantastic Sunday night!
At the end of the presentation, everyone stood in the historic Dolby Theatre, which I naively assumed was for a standing ovation to thank our very talented moderator and guests. Suddenly, I was carried into what I can only describe as the scene in Mad Max: Fury Road where the throngs of people are pushing and shoving for even the smallest drop of water. Every single bone in my body told me to get out of there, because I don’t think humans are naturally keen to be squished between other humans that you don’t know in the slightest. Part of me was saying demurely, “It’s okay. You have gotten to see your favorite actor twice now in a matter of months. Just seeing him is enough.” That’s when another small voice started to grow louder: “This is your favorite actor. You are about eight feet from him. Get up there!” So I took the chance and pushed my way until that eight foot gap became about three. By the time I made it, he had stood to move along and greet more fans at another part of the stage. But when he stood, he looked over the crowd and his eyes met mine. Not knowing what to do, I simply gave the widest grin I could. He smirked back in response, then turned toward his next destination. Had I left, I would never have had this moment with one of the filmmakers I admire most.
- EXAMPLE 2 – My Stupid Love Life:
I know that I dedicated an entire post to this remarkably unremarkable topic very recently, so I’ll keep this brief: As you read a few weeks ago, I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. Love makes us so incredibly vulnerable and sensitive, and I believe that it is because it is such a basic and pure emotion. I have lied awake so many times wondering to myself; “What if he doesn’t feel the same way about me?” “Does he know I feel the way that I do about him?” “Is he currently laughing about me with his friends?” “What would he do if he knew?” In two separate instances, I have told my intended about my feelings toward them, both with very different outcomes, albeit exceedingly POSITIVE outcomes. Heed my advice: Shut that voice up in your head that is worried that your love might laugh in your face, use your vulnerability against you, or even hate you for your feelings. Anyone who would do such a thing after being told that who they are made someone like you fall for them isn’t human, let alone worth your affections in the first place. I won’t ever regret telling anyone that I have feelings for them: I’ve taken the leap, but in no way have fallen flat on my face.
- EXAMPLE 3 – Studying Abroad:
While my first week has been stressful, given an unexpected cold, a complete change in climate, an encounter with a very rude grocery store clerk (who I will ultimately befriend and hopefully end up traveling the world with…this I vow!), being tossed into a student body of 40,000 people when I’m used to a manageable 6,000 at home, harder courses, bustling city life, and more, I know I will not regret having done this for my life. Plus, yesterday I got to to cross of my Number 1 Bucket List item…
- EXAMPLE 4 – JUMPING OFF SKY TOWER!!!
It was just starting to rain when I jumped, which I took as a sign of good fortune, as rain is my favorite weather! And no, my irrational fear of death did not come true, and I am not a poltergeist typing out this blog. If I was, you’d better believe I wouldn’t be typing out this feel-good post; I’d be scaring the bejesus out of you all on Twitter!
Here is the full video of my jump, if you’d care to relive the experience with me!
In summation, take the leap. When you have a chance to say yes to something incredible, do it! When you have the chance to say yes to something seemingly mundane, still do it! You never know where crazy, less-travelled roads can take you! Don’t let anyone tear you down because you’re amazing! In every chance to do so, TAKE. THAT. LEAP!
[Photo courtesy of StockSnap]