Fear and Success

I’m not a brave person by nature. I have been known to hide my eyes during such horrifically frightening movies as Jurassic Park and Gremlins, and getting separated from my herd during a shopping trip has sent me into some pretty wild hysterics—running up and down vast aisles in a desperate search to be reunited with them. Yet despite all this, despite the fears that seem silly and unfounded—some of my most triumphant victories have come in moments of intense danger and fear.

As a Camp Counselor for two summers in Colorado, a lot of my fears were tested. Rock climbing, outdoor camping, wild animals—all of these things I came in contact with, and each time, while afraid, I still succeeded.

One of my fondest memories was of the “Jacob’s Ladder.” It was during the week that I had the teen group, and so we went to the high ropes course to do leadership and teamwork activities.

The Jacob’s Ladder is just that—a giant ladder whose rungs grow further and further apart as you climb. It’s necessary to complete it with a partner, one climbing, one bracing, and then teamworking it to get onto the same rung.

jacob's ladder

A daunting, high-level activity.

I’d never climbed it before, but when the option came up, some wild, intuitive, insane voice in my head say “yes”. Not only did I climb the sucker with my fellow counselor Owen—we climbed the thing as a storm was brewing over our heads. After thirty minutes of climbing we’d reached the final platform—and lightening was crashing around us in wild array of light.

Climbing in extreme weather must have somehow become a calling of mine, because a few months later, when my friends were going rock climbing, that same, insane little voice said “yes.”

The day started out beautiful and clear—with only a few light, feathery clouds on the horizon. By the time I started climbing (some two hours later) the sun had disappeared, and a biting wind had picked up. Half way up my second run, small, icy white flakes began falling. With my fingers jammed deep into the rock face and my hood up to protect my eyes from the falling ice crystals—I kept climbing. And in moments of weakness, when my body ached and my hands screamed from the bruises and scuffs—that little voice in my head, the crazy one, the one with wild eyes and even wilder intentions—kept saying “go.”

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 That tiny, tiny little white speck at the top? That’s me 🙂 Very, very high up.

I made it to the top. And the strangest thing was that my hands no longer ached.

Success can be measured in a lot of different ways. For me, success is digging deep into my mind and my heart, and pulling out the small grain of bravery that rests there. And as long as I can find that bit of bravery, I have nothing to fear from myself.

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