Looking down from the top of the ropes course, it felt like I was at the peak of Mount Everest. Never before had I been as afraid yet amazed at the same time. That was the moment when I knew things changed.
I was just relaxing one week after school during June 2015 when my mom told me that my friend Tyler invited me to his birthday party over the weekend. Needless to say, I was very excited, because we were great friends and he had moved recently, so it was going to be awesome to see him again. At this point, my fear of heights had not even crossed my mind, as I was simply excited to see my friend, enjoy his birthday party, and have some fun! While we were driving, it took us awhile to find our destination, the Hanover YMCA.
After meeting up with everyone, having pizza, swimming in the pool, playing games, and just generally having fun, the birthday guide woman told us that it was time to head to the climbing course. I was confused as to what she meant by that, and when we went to the room and saw it, I was even more baffled. It was a giant four-level ropes course that went super high up into the air. I can tell you what I did NOT want at that moment in time. I did not want to do the climbing course, because at the time, one of my biggest fears was heights. And that climbing course was the definition of a terrifying, super-high adventure that I did not want to participate in, looming above me like Mount Everest. I was worried about being so far up off the ground, about falling, about the harness breaking, about all of the bad things that could potentially happen when I was that high up. But my parents coerced me into doing it with everyone else, and I was so nervous that I believe I was shaking climbing the stairs to start. The staff had put my safety vest on, and I began to ascend the course.
After going up the stairs and getting to the first level, I was still super anxious about what the future held for me. Although the workers had reassured me that I’d be completely safe, I was still skeptical. As I began the course, the first few obstacles weren’t too bad. It got higher, scarier, and more difficult as I went up, and when I got to the top, I was horrified. Looking down at my parents, I realized just how high up I was. They looked like ants down there. The next obstacle was a shaky rope bridge, and I almost fell on that, which further petrified me. After that, I was determined to finish the entire thing despite my fears. And guess what? I did! I finished the final obstacle, and a feeling of power and confidence flooded my veins: I felt like I was on top of the world. I was no longer scared of heights. In fact, I loved the thrill of being up so high! When I got back down to my parents, I gave them big hugs and they said “told you so.” That awesome feeling of triumph has still never left me, and although it may seem like a trivial thing, it was a big win for a little me.
While heights are still a little scary to me, I am no longer terrified of them. Since that time, I have gone on many large amusement park rides, like roller coasters, with my friends. I never would have had the confidence to ride these things had it not been for Tyler’s birthday party. I am so thankful that I managed to break through that wall of terror. I never gave up, and I used my fear to defeat my fear.
© Anthony Enos. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.