I am terrified of heights. Anything taller than five feet will most likely send me into a panic attack, so imagine my excitement when my professor announced that we would have to a ropes course for a part of our class. While others began to whisper excitedly, I felt nothing but absolute dread.A common theme at ropes courses is “Step Out of Your Comfort Zone”. No matter how many times I tell program leaders that I have a phobia of heights, they always try to talk me into climbing something. And without fail, every time I start to climb, I look down, then start panicking. And when I panic, I panic hard. I start hyperventilating, which eventually leads to me clinging to the wall (or tree) while sobbing violently.
Yeah, it isn’t pretty.
Knowing my history with ropes courses, when I arrived the course at my school, I was already feeling pretty anxious. I was prepared to spend the entire day, sitting alone on a bench. To my surprise, one of the first words out of the program leader’s mouth was, “This a choose your own comfort zone.” She went on to explain that nobody would pressure you to do anything. If for any reason you decided not to do something, then that was your prerogative.
When I heard those words, I almost cried in relief. Hearing that I wouldn’t have to fight tooth and nail for my right to keep two feet on the ground made me feel way more relaxed. Now that I didn’t have to worry about climbing, I could put more energy into the activities that were happening on the ground. I felt way more engaged and excited about the entire day.
Usually, days spent at a ropes course means hours of nonstop stress for me. This time, I felt relaxed and calm the entire day. It’s crazy how when people respect your boundaries, you start feel way less tense…