Fear is a strange thing. On one hand, it serves a good purpose and is an instinct that keeps us alive. On the other hand, it can be an inhibitor of doing great things. Sometimes to overcome a fear you must literally “jump in” and just do it. In my case, I had to jump out.
Recently, I jumped out a plane on my first skydive. I had never flown on a plane until two months ago. I don’t know why, because I consider myself somewhat of the adventurous type. Nonetheless, flying is always something that has scared me.
My friend John Stadelman is a lot like myself. He enjoys the thrill of speed and living his life as fully as he can. He is certified to skydive on his own and do solo jumps after completing many tandem jumps, as well as a course on the ground beforehand. He has always talked about getting me to jump and knew I had an equal interest in skydiving along with my fear of flying. I received a phone call from him one day saying, “Brian, I already got you a spot this Saturday and paid for half of your jump. You coming or what?” That was all I needed to be convinced that I had to conquer my fear of flying in the most direct way.
I arrived at Canton Air Sports and waited for my time to come. I was finally going to experience what it was like to be Superman. The next thing that hit me was remembering all of those times I spent looking up at the sky to catch a glimpse of a plane and wondering what it felt like to be up there. I met the man who would be my tandem jumper (and in control of my life) and boarded the small twin-engine plane that would carry me up over 12,000 feet into the air. Much to my surprise, I was calm throughout takeoff. I enjoyed how fast the plane went, and as it circled up into the clear, Ohio sky that afternoon, I felt like we were on a boat more than a plane.
Fear struck me, however, when the first person in our group jumped out of the plane. The door was wide open and noise of the outside air rushing around the plane was loud and intimidating. My instructor asked me to step up to the doorway of the plane to jump. The pit of my stomach caved in as the world below me looked like it was out of a movie. So beautiful, yet so powerful. It was the first time in my life that my existence felt the smallest, and I truly realized how tiny humans are. This all transpired over about ten seconds, and then, out of nowhere, after I was done squaring up with my instructor, we launched out of the doorway and into the atmosphere. I had just jumped out of a plane after flying for the first time.
At first, I felt incredible fear. I didn’t know what to do. I felt the pit of my stomach once again churn with a feeling such as when you are dreaming and kick your leg, with the only difference being that I could not turn that feeling of falling off. As we approached a free fall speed of about 120 mph, I embraced that I was alive. It was one of the best moments of my life. We had a safe landing, and I couldn’t be happier with the experience. I was alive after all and way less scared of flying. Mission accomplished.
What Does This Mean When It Comes To Blood Donations?
Too often, I hear people say, “I’m just scared to donate blood, OK?” While that is a valid fear (as the fear of needles, trypanophobia, is a very legitimate fear in the United States that many people share), the best way to truly overcome your fear is to face it head-on. Fear has no power over you at that point, and you are ultimately free.
While donating blood might not be as dangerous as jumping out of a plane, many people are very intimidated by it. To those folks, I implore you to give it a shot. Let the phlebotomist know it is your first time. Talk to your doctor about donating blood. Research how to prepare. The more you know about the process, the easier it will seem. Half of the battle of converting non-blood donors into regular donors is simple education. We are all scared of what we don’t know, as opposed to what we are familiar with.
The best part about donating blood is that you are a hero. You don’t have to jump out of a plane. You don’t have to have super powers. You don’t even have to face your fear alone, thanks to the blood center’s educated staff at your side. When you donate blood, especially as a first time blood donor who might be scared of the process, you are not only overcoming a fear. You are also saving lives.
What could be better than that?
How did you face one of your fears head-on?