Slowly, I placed my shaky hands on a couple of big guys’ shoulders. Releasing a breath, I leapt and placed my feet into their hands. Shivers traveled up and down my spine as they lifted me off the ground. Everything became distant and tears began to drizzle down my face. My breaths became shorter and shorter until I was hyperventilating. I shivered relentlessly even though my body was as stiff as a board. Only a foot off the ground and fear had overcome rational thoughts. Even though I was slowly assisted down, after reaching the floor I cried until my eyes could cry no more. Just the thought of heights quaked me to the bone.
This was seven years ago. I had blindly wandered into the world of “gymnastics”, a word that was not in my vocabulary. Heights had always haunted me, turning me into a pathetic tear factory, but on that day of tryouts all would change. It was a personal revolution when I stepped onto those spongy blue mats for the first time. Girls being tossed into the air and hitting tricks eight feet above the ground like human fireworks and human towers built right before my eyes were things I found to be magical and awe-inspiring. But even in the magic of the moment the back of my mind was always reminding me that there were heights involved. I envied the joy I saw in the other girls’ faces as they flew around and stood so high, but fear held me back in its powerful hands.
But I believe that fears, once conquered, can be turned around into great joys. Acrofest, held in Texas, is a five-day event solely focused on the practice of gymnastics. This was going to be it, the time I was going to just try it and fight my fear of heights. There I would experience a moment I would never forget, a moment in which everything just clicked and the fear turned into pure joy.
My sweaty hands slowly crept towards those big guys’ shoulders once again and I gripped them tightly. While I stood in the ready position my thoughts were swirling around in my head. I tried to remember every little thing I should do to make it work. You can do it! I told myself as I listened intently for the command to jump in and set my feet down.
“Ready and up!” the coach yelled.
It seemed like a blur as my body involuntarily performed the correct motions. I was distracted with a blue light on the ceiling, it was so intriguing that I didn’t realize that I had done it. I had achieved a feat that was larger then me, a fear that has always constricted me, but it was finally gone. What was once a great fear was now a great joy, shining brightly like the light in my eyes.