Before the experience I have never had a problem with heights. I have always enjoyed roller coasters, never been afraid of flying in an airplane, and I even recall sitting on the roof of my apartment building with my mother, looking down on the busy streets of Harlem. Figuring out the origin of my sudden phobia of heights is impossible. As a matter of fact, I am more than sure the fear developed and dissipated the moment I got both feet to fit on the tiny circular landing, 40 feet above the ground.
From a psychological point of view, the fear presents itself when I feel I cannot protect myself in an already unstable situation. My most recent realization of the fear was over this summer while sitting in a rickety blue basket of a Ferris wheel. I panicked because my mind was suddenly flooded with the absolute worst possible death scenarios. On the day I stood 40 feet in the air, supported by suspender straps and a human levy system, I thought I was going to die. Everyone beneath me encouraged me to jump out and grab onto the trapeze.
In a state of blind fear I held my breath and lunged out in an attempt to grab onto that bar for dear life. My body froze mid lunge and for a second, I was absolutely terrified. My hands were drenched in sweat and my finger-tips brushed the padding of the trapeze. My stomach flew into my throat and my heart ripped through my chest. Falling was the scariest part, but it was definitely better than the thoughts that were running through my mind. The moment my feet touched the ground, I sensed instant closure and satisfaction.
Satisfaction both in the fact that I was out of the air, and I didn’t give up on overcoming my fear. It was as if a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Overcoming a fear can be the most horrifying thing in the world, but the thoughts that run through your head actually turn out to be worse than anything that could happen. There is nothing better than staring your fear in the face and being able to knock it down. I guarantee you, the feeling you experience when you conquer it is indescribable. Try it.