Skydiving in Playa: Writing a New Story for Myself

I didn’t sleep much at all the night before our skydive. The following morning I practically ran to my yoga class in desperate need of relief from my racing mind, continually envisaging myself falling from 10,000 ft in a state of terror.

I did manage to get some relief and had a great class, focusing on my breath and keeping my mind with me on the mat for the most part. When I returned home, I felt the fear returning, so I burned some cleansing Copal incense and took out my notebook.

I needed to write a new story for myself; to do away with the old one I’d been re-telling myself for too long.

I had to physically write out the following words (among others):

“I am courageous, strong, brave and adventurous. I no longer live in fear, guilt or shame. The world is BIG. Today marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. I believe in myself. I am FREE.”

I re-read my new story and knew it was the truth. In fact, it was more true than the old one I had believed for so long. It was believing I was afraid that held me back from being me, from accepting myself and fully embracing life.

Old ideas and old beliefs I had outgrown without realising.

Skydiving new story

I was still quivering like a bowl of jelly for the next few hours while we tried to fill the time before our early afternoon jump.

But once I was actually on my way (I was first, thank God!), the fear disappeared.

Yes, it disappeared.

Skydiving Playa on my way

The tiny plane took off as smooth as silk over the turquoise Caribbean Sea, revealing the spectacular coastline below. Immediately I knew this was always meant to be, taking my biggest literal leap of faith in a part of the world I had come to love so intensely.

As well as an overall feeling of apprehension and excitement, a bizarre underlying feeling of calm spread through me as we climbed 10,000 feet in the air. I looked out through the window observing cotton-ball clouds at eye level and then down at the sea; the coral reef spreading itself like a dark blue ink stain through the aqua water.

When the plane door banged open, I felt nothing but relief that it was finally happening.

Stepping out onto the ledge I would be falling from, I just focused on placing my right, then left foot as instructed by Gilmer, the cool-as-a-cucumber guy I was strapped to.

I didn’t look down though.

And then, tumbling off the step of the moving aircraft; the deafening WOOSH! of moving through space at high speed;  the most surreal, exhilarating feeling of which I have nothing to compare it to, before being steadied out and pummeled from underneath by a thousand air-filled boxing gloves, giving me the most FUN half-minute I have ever experienced in my life.

I didn’t think, I didn’t take in the view, I just had an absolute blast, completely in the moment with no concept of time or space or even thought, just the abstract notion of “Yee-fucking-ha!” as pure joy ripped through my mind and body.

I forgot about Gilmer, the man who I had entrusted my life to, and just focused on ‘my best buddy’ Gonzo, the camera guy who I simply loved so much in that moment (sorry Tyrhone!); my only reminder of humanity as we fell through the air together.

I wish there was more to say. Tyrhone gave a great, in depth account of his experience, which was vastly different than mine. Taunee, his younger sister who is visiting us here in Playa del Carmen, had a completely different experience again.

I wish there were more words for fun, but that tiny three letter word best sums up my first ever skydiving experience, the very experience that had me in a state of mild insanity for a week before (and certifiably insane the day before). I’m glad I documented the experience as it happened, without filtering my heightened emotion and everything it brought up for me.

I hope it encourages someone who experiences similar levels of exaggerated fear to move through to the other side.

Because let me assure you, the other side is so spectacularly sweet.

Skydive Playa del Carmen

Take a look at my video: (http://vimeo.com/66900027)

I’d like to thank Taunee and Tyrhone (watch his video here) for taking the plunge with me, and to the wonderful guys of Skydive Playa for their professionalism and all-round kick-ass-ness.

Thank you for helping me write a new story for myself.

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Comments

Skydiving in Playa: Writing a New Story for Myself — 62 Comments

    • Thanks Jimmy! I can’t believe it either, and mostly I am just shocked at how much I enjoyed it!!! You have to do it now :) Sharks? Meh! Bring it on!!!

  1. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that my heart was about to beat through my chest while watching you wait to jump and I had tears in my eyes when you finally did it. I am so happy for you. This whole story inspires me so much. Congratulations! -C
    Carmel and Shawn recently posted..HOW WE’RE SAVINGMy Profile

  2. I’m absolutely terrified at the thought of sky diving but at the same time, I know it’s something I really want to do. Congrats for facing that fear and loving it!! It’s very encouraging to hear that you not only did it but enjoyed it!
    Britany recently posted..“Stress Free Solo Travel”? Yeah, right.My Profile

    • Hey Britany, I was terrified, believe me. The lead up was horrific, but the actual event was nothing like the horror show I had imagined. It was exciting, different, and so much fun! Some day, when you’re in a place that does it, just go for it!!!

  3. I’m so proud of you!!!
    Being one of your friends on that Gravitron while you stayed feet planted to the ground next to Mrs Williams, I know what a massive leap this was for you.
    It wasn’t even a Cali smile on your face you totally looked in the moment and having a ball.
    I wonder if I could ever do it one day???
    What will be next for you ?

    • He he… hope she doesn’t read this, maybe I should change the name :) Thank you sweety, yes you’ve been there since the beginning, what a journey it’s been!! Love you. Oh, and of course you could do it. :)

  4. Awesome to watch muffin! Am do proud of you. Brilliant song to put to it. You are bulletproof! X kel

  5. This is so incredible! You are so incredibly brave and courageous, not just because you willingly jump out of planes, but for all the emotional truths you are so willing to share with us. I think for a lot of people skydiving is far less scary than being as open and honest as you routinely are.

    I loved in particular when you were describing the shot of pure joy that pierced you once you jumped. I know it wasn’t this way for you, but that’s how I feel every time I scuba dive. Of course, diving is a far more mellow, relaxing exercise than jumping out of planes, but isn’t it lovely when you find things that help you see the world—and yourself—with new eyes?
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Chewing the Fat with Expat Edna!My Profile

    • Thank you so much Steph, yes, I still can’t believe I did it and the fact that my fear didn’t dominate the experience (in fact, didn’t even show up!!!)is just beyond amazing. I am in shock at how much I loved it. Yay for you and your diving, it’s fantastic you have fallen in love with it. Maybe I’ll try again some day :) :)

  6. AWESOME Sarah!!! Have always wanted to do it… 😉 you inspire each and every day!! well done….

  7. CONGRATS! What a major accomplishment! Amazing that you have that great video too. I’ll admit that I was petrified just watching the two of you leave that little plane. :-). What a beautiful white sand beach to end what must have been one of the most memorable half minutes of your existence so far.
    Mike | Earthdrifter recently posted..Miswak: Medicine for the MouthMy Profile

    • Thanks Mike, if I was going do do this, I had to have video proof!!! Plus, it all happens so fast it’s nice to relive it! I am going to watch this whenever I’m sad and it will immediately cheer me up!!!

  8. Bah! Amazing!!! Wow. I am so glad that your experience was so great and that your literal leap of faith has landed you in the best of places. I’m going to go watch the video now (I hope this slow Nepali internet will allow it). You’re a badass Sarah!

    • Ha! Thanks Kim, you would love it! It goes without saying that Brian would too, I mean, he jumped off a bridge attached to a piece of string and all 😉

  9. Sarah, it is wonderful to watch and share those feelings, everything as I said on Tykes’ post, the very best watching both of you is the change of face as you actually leap, pure ecstasy, and landing,I have loved sharing this whole day with you all, lots of love xxxx

    • Glad you could share it with us Heather, isn’t technology wonderful? :) Thank you for all your cheering, we could hear it all the way from London… XXX

  10. Hi Sarah
    I have wanted to comment on lots of your adventures, but just haven’t. But your jump really inspired me, well done. You really looked like you were really pumped and thoroughly enjoyed every moment once you left the plane.
    JeffyD

    • Thank you Jeffy D!!! I did absolutely love it and wished it lasted much longer! I was a bit sad when the parachute went up, a moment I thought I would be very happy about :) :) Thank you for reading, it’s so lovely to hear from you, give Cass my love xxx

  11. Great video! Andrew and I skydived during the first month of our trip in New Zealand and I still count it as one of the best days I’ve had on the road so far – even though I’ve never been so scared in my life. As you mention, it’s interesting how everyone has such different skydiving experiences; while Andrew shared your love of the free-fall I much preferred it when the parachute opened and we drifted down peacefully. We didn’t have to step out onto a little ledge like you did, I think I would have totally lost it if I’d had to do that!
    Amy recently posted..Bad Travel Days and the Ocean RoadMy Profile

    • Hey Amy, that’s awesome, its been one of the most surprising things I’ve ever done, I thought I would be like you and like the gliding, but it was the freefall that did it for me… and believe it or not the stepping out wasnt as scarey as it looked :)

  12. Both of my brothers were skydivers and both had severe accidents wile doing so, yet I’m still looking forward to jumping out of a plane someday. Your article reminded of why I still want to something as stupid leap from a perfectly functioning aircraft.
    Nathan DePetris recently posted..Shisa, Okinawa, JapanMy Profile

    • Sorry to hear that Nathan, I don’t think I’d ever be confident enough to do it alone, tandem was just the right balance of fear and safety for me. Good luck! :)

  13. Ha ha, for a minute I thought you would hit the guy on the beach. :-) Awesome video (and great commentry 😉 )! You really look like you are having a blast. I am not sure I could do a skydive, but I guess if you are jumping with someone else, you have no choice-if he jumps you jump automatically. So that probably makes it a little bit easier.
    TammyOnTheMove recently posted..Alternative sightseeing in BerlinMy Profile

    • Ha ha the guy on the beach is Tyrhone! And yes, we nearly hit him as he was videoing the landing! Exactly, once you decide to do it, there’s no turning back, just go with the flow and trust that they know exactly what they are doing :) :)

  14. Hey Sarah, you rock!! Keith and I just watched the video together. He said you looked so calm, just like someone who conquered her fear. The video was great we felt we jumped from the plane ourselves. And the background music was cool! So proud of you, Sarah! You inspired us.
    Marisol recently posted..Visiting Cambodia’s Painful PastMy Profile

    • Thank you guys!!!!! There is no better feeling than overcoming a long-standing fear, and yes, it was actually a pretty calm experience (until the free-fall of course), which surprised me no end. I don’t know if it was adrenalin protecting my emotions or simply relief that it was finally happening and I would no longer have to feel that overwhelming anxiety!!! Thank you for watching xxx

  15. YAAAYY!! How brave you are Sarah! I had tears in my eyes watching and all Alex and I kept saying watching the clip ‘oh my god, oh my god’, oh my god’. Nanga camp is a far distant memory. Love you xox

  16. I can relate to this post in so many ways. I skydived a few years back and it was a time when I was conquering fears. I booked the flight a few months in advance, and for those two or so months of waiting there was plenty of affirmations I was using. One in particular I still continue to use now is, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway! Its actually a fantastic book by Susan Jeffers. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to face their fears and take action. Jill
    P.S I loved the experience too. It was friggin awesome!!!
    Jill Miller recently posted..Last Weeks Update in Shark BayMy Profile

  17. Sarah, your website is very inspiring – I’m sure you hear (err, read) that a lot!

    I’ll be following along – and I’m sure there is a bunch that I will learn from you.

    Cheers,
    Marissa

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