Kicking Fear at 300 Feet
Yesterday I did something that I never thought I would ever try in my life. I rappelled down a 300+ foot building. The Brady Sullivan building on Elm Street in Manchester, NH. to be specific.
Why? On purpose? What the hell are you thinking? Do you have your life insurance policy updated?
Those are just a few of the questions I received after I made my announcement about my descent from the top of this 300+ foot building on a seriously windy day (they actually had to stop for about 30 minutes because it was so hard). I did it because my friend Mike Teixeira who is the creative director at Calypso Communications and the brains behind the XTreme Descent campaign to help support The Boy Scouts of America – Daniel Webster Council.
Ok, I didn’t only do it because Mike asked me and I wanted to help support a great cause. I also did it because I wanted to overcome my fear of heights to prove that, dammit, I CAN DO IT! I have done some rappelling in my past so I was not all new to the concept, but that was back in high school with my ROPE program and it was only about a 30 foot cliff.
This was over 300 feet. 300!!!!! MUUUUUUUCH different.
Then, they brought us to the training area inside the parking garage. The training involved rappelling down the side of the garage – only about 3 stories. Check out the picture below of my friend Patti Fousek. Not that bad, right? Let me tell you…as I got up on that ledge and the Over the Edge trainer told me to “just lean back” I thought I would pass out. Just lean back?? That completely goes against any logic. If you lean back, you fall! At least that is what my brain kept telling me as it fought my muscles from going back.
Apparently I had the look of utter fear in my face as I said to him “I don’t think I can do the big building” because he made it a point to have the other trainers on the top of the BIG building make sure I was ok. Well…I eventually “leaned back” and easily made it to the bottom. But can I do the BIG building? I thought. I was on my way up to try.
We took the elevator up to the top of the building and then proceeded to walk up several flights of stairs to bring us to the top of the building where there were signs everywhere that read “don’t lean over the edge.” Believe me…I really wasn’t tempted. I was scared enough looking out the window when we got to the top.
Throughout my ride up the elevator and while waiting for my turn, I tried to relax and I visualized being on the ground having just finished the rappel. I also thought about how amazing it would feel to face my fear of heights and the stories I could tell people later as they thought I was wicked cool for being such a badass.
It was my turn. I walked to the ledge where they hooked me into my life lines and then kneeled on edge of the building. I was kneeling on the edge of the freakin’ building! The trainer talked me through all the steps on how to get myself down again and then told me to “just scoot back and lean into the harness.” Uh huh….sure. Well…I kept focusing on the visuals from before and did what he said. As I was hanging there on top of the building swaying a little from the high-powered winds, I thought to myself…”I can do this!” As I descended down the building I caught glances of myself and my surroundings in the windows to the right and the left since the wind kept swaying me back and forth. All along thinking…this is so freaking cool. There were times where my fear tried to rear it’s ugly head and take me over, but I quickly squashed it and kept on making my way down.
I eventually made it to the bottom and while I think I peed my pants a little and I was insanely thirsty (likely from the intense fear) it was an amazing experience and one that I am happy to share with everyone. I overcame a big fear and know I can really, truly do anything that I put my mind to!
So, the next time you get asked to do something that completely scares the crap out of you, do it. You go and do it because there is nothing like looking fear in the eye and telling it to…well, you know.
Rock on with your scared bad self!