It’s Ok to Fall
This past weekend I went to the Bronx Zoo and did their new Treetop Adventure. It’s essentially various courses in the trees where you challenge yourself to climb ropes, scale ladders, zip line, balance etc. The courses range from beginner to expert. I’d done some of them before and really wanted to push myself this time. So I opted to do the Blue Course which is the 2nd hardest one they have. There are two blue courses, one apparently easier than the other, but the guy I’m dating was doing a course near the harder one so I decided to give it a try.
I’m fit, I said to myself. I am strong. I have balance and core strength. I got this. The first couple of obstacles were very doable and then I got to one that had me puzzled. I stood on the platform trying to assess how to conquer it. Basically it was free floating wood items that I needed to step on, but to do so required reaching for a rope with one hand while reaching with a foot and at the same time keeping the other foot and hand on the other rope and wood log. Luckily, one of the workers was underneath me and offered to give me some tips on how to navigate.
Now, let me be clear. Tips are great but they don’t remove any of the difficulty or challenge in completing the course. Just because you “know” how to do something, you still need to actually do it. I’m not scared of heights but I am scared of falling. And failing. His advice was essentially to lean all my weight to one side and then grab and step to lean my weight to the other side. It took all of my strength and I was sweating like a mad man and breathing heavier than I should considering I was just standing there, lol.
Once I got across there was an even harder challenge. These all had the same concept of instability and needing to lean one way or another in order to progress, while at the same time trying to secure the floating item. At some point I became paralyzed with what to do next. And then he told me something that changed my entire perception of the course. He said, you can basically zipline and skip the obstacle if you want to. I was already hooked in, so if I missed a log or step I would hang from the wire and could just propel myself to the platform. Now, we all know me. I wasn’t going to take the easy way out, but just the idea that I could fall safely was enough to remove the fear and paralysis I felt and allow me to progress through the course.
So as I missed a step or two and hung there trying to get back on, I allowed myself to relax, knowing I could fall and be safe. It didn’t make it easier, but it did make it possible.
The same goes for dating. I’ve been seeing someone new for a little while and one of my mantras over the past year has been to Love Fearlessly. I even got this tattooed on my arm.
It’s my reminder to allow myself to fall. That me falling will never be dangerous or wrong because it’s how I feel. If they don’t feel the same way, I can’t be responsible for that, but I will know that I showed myself, I wasn’t afraid to fall and I gave it all I had.
Once you remove the fear from something, you allow yourself to just be and it’s a pretty amazing place to be. It doesn’t mean you won’t get hurt, because sometimes when we fall we get bruised. But you will get back up and you won't be afraid to fight another day. Because something is always there to catch you.