You know how people always say “face your fear if you want to overcome it”. There is no other way around it. Well I have always doubted what people say. About anything and everything. Its my most annoying quality. So I never took the above mentioned words seriously. I thought I could mentally defeat fear. Think it out of existence. Even when wise mentors, parents and other people in who in general have way more experience than I do, and thus way more validity, told me that the only way to defeat fear is with action, I did not heed their advice. “Its not about logically drilling holes in fear’s arguments. Its about proving them wrong by doing what you are most scared of until you aren’t scared anymore” they yelled. But I turned a deaf year, until this weekend…
This past weekend I visited Canada’s wonderland. For those of you who don’t know what that is, its a theme park that hosts Canada’s biggest roller coasters, the Behemoth and the Leviathan. According to Wikipedia the Leviathan is the tallest and fiercest roller coaster in Canada. This title was held by Behemoth until 2012 when Leviathan was introduced. Behemoth’s track, as described by Wikipedia, boasts of a steel track 1,620.9 metres (5,318 ft) in length and the height of the lift is approximately 70 metres (230 ft).The angle of the first descent is approximately 75 degrees.
Sadly, this is not the story of how I decided to face my fears and willingly ride a giant roller coaster. Having never been on a “big girl/boy” coaster, I wasn’t too keen to ride either the Behemoth or the Leviathan. My friends, however had different plans. 20 minutes into our day at Wonderland, I found myself standing in line for the Behemoth. This is NOT a fear I wanted to face. Not one bit. I had been to wonderland before and successfully navigated away from the Behemoth. It was this giant scary thing, full of (irrational) possibilities like my seat belt breaking, the ride breaking or death by heart attack. You think I am exaggerating but I am not. Before I got on the ride I asked my friends if the ride operators would ask us to sign waivers. “Did we have to sign one when we bought the tickets to Wonderland?”(because I would have forgotten such a thing) I asked with genuine concern flashing across my face. My friends looked at me like I was crazy. I then started talking to myself, saying things like ” I have been zip lining before. It cant be as bad as zip lining. I had to will myself to jump off the ledge. A roller coaster must be better. Here, the motor will push me to my doom”.
When it was our turn to get on the ride, this insane sense of peace came over me. Not what I was expecting (I am assuming nor were you). I took my glasses off and got on the ride. On our way up, I did not open my eyes. My friend asked me if I wanted her to warn me just before the drop. At first I said no and then quickly changed my mind. When I heard the words “here it comes” I opened my eyes. And kept them open until we came to a stop. FYI, my mouth was also open the entire time (RIP bugs that got in my way).
As the ride came to a halt I found myself smiling. I honestly don’t remember much of the ride. I am sure adrenaline had something to do with my memory loss, but it wasn’t the sole reason for it. The truth is I was distracted during the ride. I could not believe how scary this ride wasn’t. How it was nothing compared to the monster I had built it up to be in my head. It reminded me of a lot of experiences in my life that had ended in a similar fashion.
Fear is just the act of creating monsters in our heads that don’t exist in real life 99.9% of the time. Some of us do it more often than others, but we have all avoided experiences that could have been life changing or just plain enjoyable because we are scared of the worst case scenario. The worst bit is that our monsters are in our control and thus it is our own fault that we don’t take more chances and live a richer life. There is no one holding us back, but ourselves. And all it took was a roller coaster ride for me to realize it.