Are you human? Do you have a brain? Can you feel feelings? If you answered “yes” to at least two of those questions and you’re reading this article, there’s a 99.999% chance you’re experiencing skydiving anxiety. And y’know what? We’re proud of you for that. As it turns out, having a working brain is a prerequisite for having a great first time tandem skydive. So that’s great news, dude. You don’t have to stop reading.
Pop quiz: What percentage of first time tandem skydiving students have skydiving anxiety? Answer: 100%. Yep! Every single new skydiver is scared, and you shouldn’t believe someone who tells you otherwise.
The trick is not to pretend that skydiving anxiety doesn’t exist. It’s to manage the fear and let it heighten your experience. And here’s a fun tip: when you learn to manage that seemingly overwhelming fear, that skill won’t just help you nail skydiving for the first time. Actually, it’ll spill over and better your life in all sorts of ways.
Knowledge is serious power over skydiving anxiety. Serious power. The more you know about skydiving equipment and procedures before you arrive on the day of your first skydive, the less you can expect your heart to race when you walk towards that airplane with your tandem skydiving instructor.
Let us drop some knowledge on you. Did you know that every parachute system used in skydiving has not one but two parachutes inside? The backup parachute (called a “reserve”) is taken out, inspected and packed by a federally-certified rigger every 180 days. In addition to that, there’s a little gadget in there called an automatic activation device (“AAD”), which when activated, deploys a backup parachute if the instructor is unable to do so.
Love your fear! It loves you. From an adaptive standpoint, our negative physical reaction to things that might hurt us has served us very well. Any animal that bumbles through life without a healthy level of fear probably won’t be alive long enough to reproduce; it’d keep walking into knife fights and lion cages.
Any relationship needs healthy boundaries, of course, and our relationship with fear should be no exception. You can safely take the steering wheel back from fear in a situation — like tandem skydiving! — in which the statistics, safety procedures and professional management of the variables are all on your side…and it feels great to do so.
Speaking of tackling fear and feeling great for it: Did you know that doing just that is a key part of an emotionally healthy life? Fear-wrangling is a mental muscle that needs to be strengthened, and — since it might surprise you that skydiving is, statistically speaking, actually safer than commuting — a tandem skydive is just the place to do just that.
Pro tip: As with most workouts, regular visits to the “gym” will tone those flabby fear responses. You’ll notice that you’re less reactive to adversity, more measured in your reactions and calmer when the train cars of your life are sailing off the tracks. If those skills don’t have extensive, profound effects in your life at large, we’ll eat our collective hat.
Ready to show skydiving-for-the-first-time anxiety who’s boss? Let’s do it! We’re looking forward to helping you face it down and win this thing.
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