There’s something about falling. That feeling of weightlessness, those butterflies tickling the insides of my stomach, the uncertainty that comes with willingly letting go… I crave it. There is nothing in the world that excites me as much as hurling myself off the edge into something new.
I suppose that’s how, ten days into a very hot North Carolinian August, I found myself on a set of abandoned railroad tracks thirty-five feet above Lake Gaston. I was nervous, but in the best way possible. The dirt path from our boat up to the bridge was strewn with sharp rocks and empty beer bottles, the sun-heated tar on the tracks boiled beneath my bare feet. Slatted boards revealed hints of blue water far below me. My best friend’s hand was wrapped tightly around mine, countering my anxiety as I climbed up to the edge.
I hesitated for a minute before I leapt. Against the advice of every (sensible) adult I know, I was spontaneously jumping off a bridge with my friends. Looking down, I swallowed the self-doubt that was threatening to paralyze me. I considered the ecstasy I was about to feel. I was determined not to let fear get to me, because I know myself well enough to expect that I would regret not jumping. I knew how proud I would feel after plunging into the lake, because this was not just an opportunity for fun, but the opportunity. I was going to take advantage of it.
So I jumped. Rather, I was pushed by my own audacity. The plummet left my stomach far behind me. I couldn’t help but smile as a feeling of ultimate satisfaction overcame me when my toes broke the surface after two glorious seconds of free fall.
Falling, in both figurative and literal circumstances, I find unbearably fun. The thrill of the drop, the uncertainty of the outcome… as long as I feel safe entering the situation, I take advantage of my brashness and see what I can make of it. Sure, I was being reckless, and though society generally advises young people against taking such risks, I jumped because I recognize that the elements of my life that I value most – my happiest memories and my successes in the worlds of academia and publishing – are products of my willingness to take chances. I approach all challenges, all potential victories, with the same leap of faith that I took off that bridge.
Defying the rules that the world has put in place for my generation is indeed a challenge, but I find it utterly necessary and will continue to do so. What stories will I have to tell if I don’t face my fears and seek out adventures? What successes might I miss out on if I live the life others tell me to live instead of making my own decisions? The most risky events frequently become the moments of my life I recall most fondly.
As I prepare to enter college, I cannot help but feel excited. My next set of adventures is about to start, and I am more than ready to jump.