I am not a rollercoaster girl. In high school, I dreaded the summertime visit to Six Flags, the local amusement park that housed these gargantuan structures with its rolling cars, wooden frames, and unpredictable creaks. I played my fear cool as my friends and I walked the stairs to the latest gravity defying, nausea inducing ride. Others looked forward to the wind blowing through their hair while they extended their hands to the sky, reaching for that invisible something that I never understood. Through the hour long line, sweat beads gathered in-between my fingers, my pulse tried to chase my breath, amd my mind entertained all of the worst case scenarios that might happen 305 feet in the sky.
What if the ride malfunctions? What if I get stuck in the sky for hours? What if one of the car shifts off the track? What if . . .?
As the end of the line neared, the pit in my stomach grew outside of my body. When it came time to step into the car, I feigned some excuse and crossed over to safety, waving goodbye to my friends with a relieved smile on my face. In my youth I established I prefer staying close to the ground.
A recent conversation with my daughter prompted reflecting on this particular rollercoaster memory. We watched a woman sky dive on television and with no hesitation, my daughter stated , “I am going to sky dive when I am older. It looks like so much fun.”
“Really? That seems so scary.” With those words, my mommy hat slipped off as I offered my honest opinion on this endeavor.
“I am still going to try it. It looks sooo much fun.” Her exuberance glittered.
My words did not inhibit her desire to pursue this endeavor. Part of her eagerness to skydive stems from her youth, but it is also her adventurous spirit. She is not afraid of heights, rollercoasters, or jumping high on the trampoline.
My daughter’s desire to try these activities magnifies my own insecurities. I realize that it is more than rollercoasters for me. What paralyzed me in my youth still haunts me today.
Craving certainty is my mantra. Anything that falls out of that spectrum leads to anxiety, worry, and the barrage of what if’s. I cling to routine, habit, and predictability. Boring, but safe for me.
Twenty five years later, the rollercoaster factor will never be a part of my makeup. And I need to learn to accept this.
Image by Jo Jakeman via Flickr Creative Commons