Edit desk: Facing my fears


I knew the rickety little plane had to reach an altitude of 10,000 feet before we could jump out of it. Aside from the pilot, the plane only fit four people: me, my friend and our tandems. 

I thought to myself, “wow, this isn’t so bad.” Everything below was clear and didn’t seem far away at all. The pilot then announced we had only reached 2,000 feet. 

I’ve been afraid of heights for as long as I can remember. As the plane climbed, my body shook, and I questioned why I agreed to do this. 

When we arrived at the location that morning, I was nervous and excited. Skydiving in Kona, Hawaii was a can’t-miss opportunity. My friends and I had planned this trip to visit two of our other friends who were there on gap year programs, and someone had had the crazy idea to sign us up to skydive.

I shivered as we continued to ascend. I didn’t give myself time to think about actually jumping off of the plane until I was sitting there, attached to my tandem, watching us move farther and farther away from the ground.

Since one of my friends had been skydiving before, I made sure he was on the plane with me. I also elected myself as the first person to jump because I knew if I saw anyone go before me I would be way too scared and bail.

Being the first jumper, I was seated right next to the door. My friend was stuffed towards the back of the plane with his tandem, and we could barely hear anything anyone was saying.

The professionals we dove with carried a GoPro to document the entire experience and interviewed us throughout each step of the process to make a final video. The tandem asked how I felt before entering the plane, while on the plane and after the jump. 

As I gazed out the window in sheer terror, my tandem shoved the GoPro in my face and asked if I was ready. Watching the video a few days later, the look on my face was one of genuine fear. I had tried to crack a smile as he pointed the camera at me, but it looked more like I was going to cry.

It only took 20 minutes for us to reach 10,000 feet. There wasn’t enough room to stand up, so as the plane slowed, my tandem moved us closer and closer to the door. 

I felt lightheaded.

Screeching gusts of wind blew as the door opened, and my mind raced with worries. It was definitely too windy to be safe, and I thought there was no way we were going to be able to jump in this weather. 

Since the tandem seemed unphased, I asked him if this was normal. He laughed at me.

There was a tiny step outside of the plane to jump off of. It was probably the size of a piece of paper, but maybe I was too scared to actually see.

The tandem told me, “it’s time, it’s time,” and I looked at my friend, horrified. He gave me a thumbs-up and pointed to the door to jump. There was no turning back now.

My legs were shaking as I put one foot on the step, and the wind rushed through me. Everything was happening so fast. 

I froze, too scared to let my other foot and the weight of my body leave the plane. As I looked down at the ground in panic, the tandem took control of my body. Before I knew it, I was in free fall.

You would expect your stomach to drop as you fall flatly into the earth, but I felt like I was floating. 

We did an airborne somersault with the initial jump, and then we were still. Despite how fast we were falling, I felt like I was levitating so high above the ground. The air was so loud I could hardly hear myself laughing.

I didn’t even notice when the tandem gave the signal that he was deploying the parachute. The harsh pull of the release lifted my body upright like I was sitting in a chair, and the noise silenced.

We were really floating now, slowly descending toward the ground. 

Everything became more clear and visible, and I could soon see my friends waving below.

Once we landed, the tandem began to disconnect us. I took off the safety goggles that were suctioned to my face as my friends cheered in the background.

I began to catch my breath, realizing I had just jumped out of a plane 10,000 feet in the air. I never thought I would be able to do that, but it was a high I had never experienced before. Maybe it was because I conquered my fear of heights, or perhaps it was the fact that I was skydiving in Hawaii, but it was the most exhilarating moment of my life.

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