How much do we really know about ourselves until we push past what we currently think is possible and achieve more than what we’re comfortable with doing?
When I was 15 years old my dad took my brother, sister and I to an amusement park in the Wisconsin Dells.
As we approached the park you could see this massive tower casting an intimidating shadow over the property. Faint screams echoed into the parking lot as miniature figures threw themselves off the tower’s ledge with only a bungee cord securing their future.
My brother, 5 years my senior, and sister, 17 at the time, saw the madness as another adventure to conquer.
I saw it as another reason to shit my pants.
They climbed up the narrow caged in stairwell, tied some rope around their ankles and jumped off.
Landing safely on the giant blow-up mat below, both rolled off and unhooked their gear with this incredible jubilation and excitement that only something that intense could suck out.
I on the other hand, kept my feet firmly on the ground the entire time. I was scared to death.
I didn’t make eye contact with any of them before or after the jump in hopes they wouldn’t ask for my excuse again. I caught the wrath for being the family chicken, but it was nothing compared to the idea of throwing myself off that ledge.
I never felt so weak and inadequate as I did that day. My family was able to overcome their fears to achieve something great while I was crippled by my own state-of-mind.
I’ve remembered it ever since.
Fast-forward 12 years. I’m standing on a tiny metal platform on the wrong side of the San Francisco Bridge in Baños, Ecuador. I’m 100 meters (328 feet) above a small river that runs through the canyon below with only a harness and Spiderman t-shirt to protect me.
I went into Baños with a task at hand.
I saw an advertisement for the bridge jump in Quito before arriving and knew this would be a great opportunity to test myself. I needed to prove that there was nothing I couldn’t overcome. Not to be completely fearless but have the ability to push myself physically, mentally and psychologically to become the person I want to be. To think of everything like my brother and sister did back then, like just another adventure to conquer.
I signed up for the leap within a half hour of arriving in Baños, but had to wait until we returned from a white water rafting excursion that morning to execute my mission. I thought about the jump the entire time while rafting.
2pm arrived and my adrenaline was rushing with the thought of what came next. We returned to the tour office where the bridge jump coordinator was waiting. We made the short walk down to the bridge where the wind had picked up and a crowd began to gather. There was no one else waiting so I walked right up to be harnessed in. I was told to jump straight out, asked if I wanted to buy weed after the jump and then was told, “okay we’re ready.” Just like that. I ignored the small talk and stepped up and over the ledge without hesitation.
With the wind blowing, people gasping and river rushing, I looked straight down and said to myself “you are what you create.”
3, 2, 1 Jump!
With a big face first leap forward, my stomach instantly reached my throat as the water zoomed closer and my arms flailed in the crisp afternoon air.
The harness slammed against my balls and I was swung backwards under the bridge. I did it.
This was what that jubilation felt like. Nothing could stop me. The biggest mental obstacle that has haunted me for over a decade was gone. I laughed out loud as I was lowered to the river’s edge.
We are all given the opportunity to create our own destiny, to write our own legend. For me, I needed to make this jump to prove something to myself, for someone else it could be a completely different obstacle.
The entire concept of this blog is within this story. My current state-of-mind, dedication to constant improvement and excitement for the future drives me to push the limits of my own psyche.
For the past 2 years, I have continuously asked myself the same 3 questions… are you pushing your own limitations? Do you have the guts to create something great? Are you happy with the person in the mirror?
While I’m nowhere near where I want to be in my life, its moments like this, standing on the edge of that bridge alone with my own doubts that reassure me that I’m on my way.
Life is my bitch and now I’m in control.