“The only difference between fear and excitement is your attitude about it.”
I have heard this saying, unknown in its origins, a few times. I found myself thinking about fear versus excitement as I sat in a small plane this past weekend. At 13,500 feet I was going to jump out of the plane and free fall for 60 seconds before gliding the rest of the way back to solid ground under a parachute. I love challenging myself and taking risks, and I have always wanted to skydive. However, in that moment I was struggling to gauge my feelings as the seconds ticked away and the plane climbed closer and closer to my jumping point.
Was I scared or excited?
Normally, I would not have so much time to think over my feelings. Most challenges in life pop up unexpectedly, unlike this thrill of a challenge that I had marked on my calendar for two weeks. Still, I do not think I fully considered the absurdity of jumping out of a plane. Then, with the actual fall looming in front of me, as the plane rose above the clouds and the plane door slid open, I had no choice but to fully confront the question of fear versus excitement. In that moment I realized the choice was entirely mine to make. “The only difference between fear and excitement is your attitude about it.”
I was tandem skydiving, meaning that a certified professional was strapped to my back, and they would pull the parachute and steer us to the landing strip. Just as we were about to jump, with my legs hanging out the side of the plane, my partner leaned down and said to me, “Remember to smile.”
For me, the only way I was returning to the ground would be under a parachute. Why let fear cloud an experience that could be entirely positive? So I decided to be excited and smile … and I helped myself by not looking down while sitting on the edge of the plane. When leaping into daily challenges and adventures, I think it is best to keep your head up anyways.
I loved every second of the free fall and could not believe the distance between my feet and the ground once the parachute opened. This was a thrill I could never forget, but it was also a lesson to take with me. Attitude is a choice, and when given a choice, I think it is better to choose the positive. Choose excitement over fear, determination over defeat and satisfaction over regret. Most people do not go skydiving every day, but every day has challenges and the opportunity to approach them with a positive and excited attitude.
Written by Clairemont intern Kaitlyn Karcher, a senior at UNC.