I am 10 years old. We are in a row boat, traveling across a man-made lake to the other side to do something that I’m terrified of: jump off a cliff. The counselors seem to have little concern for what’s to come. It’s not a very high cliff, but to me it seems formidable. I’m scared. I can’t do this. But everyone else is “doing this.” I don’t have a choice. It’s what is happening.
Together, the group of 10 year old girls along with our counselors climbed up the slippery wet path, carefully stepping on the jagged stones, making sure we didn’t slip. It was a long way down after all.
I anticipated what would happen once I reached the top. I knew what was coming. There was no other way off that cliff but to jump. I had no choice. Some of the girls who weren’t great swimmers wore life jackets. I was in a higher swimming rank, so I didn’t need to wear a vest. I stood waiting my turn in back of a girl with shiny long black hair. She bent her legs and jumped effortlessly into the air, her limbs flailed the entire way down until she reached the bottom of the lake.
It was my turn. My heart was racing, I didn’t want to jump. I knew there was no other way out of here. I tried not to look down. I didn’t think. I closed my eyes, curled my toes and pushed my body off of that cliff. Before I knew it my body met with the water and I was free from fear. I did it.
I’m 34 years old and I’m standing at the edge of that cliff again. But this time, I’m thinking about what will happen to me if I jump. I want to curl my toes under, bend my knees and throw my body into the air, but something is stopping me. I am stopping me.
Somewhere inside of me is that brave girl who didn’t think so hard. She found the strength within herself conquer that cliff. I want to find her. I want to embrace her. She is me and I am her. I won’t let my fear win. I will jump.