Facing Fears

Paragliding and Anxiety: Why You Need to Face Your Fears

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“Run toward the edge.”

I froze and stared at the small town and lake – glimmering miles below me – and almost blurted out that I wanted a refund for 95 euros.

“You want me to run?” I repeated. I pretended to be transfixed by the scenery. Distracted.

“Yes,” came the curt yet reassuring reply from the pilot. “Run. And don’t sit down until I tell you.”

A few hours ago, I had signed up for paragliding over the Julian Alps in Slovenia. The 95 euros was a reasonable price, compared to the 155 euros in Germany, and many people in my group expressed interest in seeing the natural wonders from a bird’s eye view. I wanted to paraglide not only for the glorious scenery, but because I thought the experience would help quell my fear of flying.

After all, if I could soar over the mountains, with only a few straps and a parachute to prevent me from falling to my gruesome death, than surely boarding a Boeing 777 wouldn’t make my stomach tie into knots.

I love traveling, and my “dream destination” list is never-ending. I want to visit Japan. New Zealand. Australia. Hawaii. All locations that require at least 11 hours of non-stop flying. So why not give paragliding a chance?

In total, it took a 25 minute drive followed by a 15 minute hike to reach the take off point. The hill’s slope was steep and sudden, and as I looked at the tiny roads and houses, I immediately questioned my impulsive decision.

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Overlooking the Julian Alps … from a safe spot on the ground.

I’ve written many times that I’m not the bravest person on the face of the earth. Far from it. I worry about stuff completely out of my control. Sometimes I lie in bed, unable to sleep, and think about what will happen to me if I don’t move out my comfortable suburb in New Jersey. And let’s not even talk about my hatred of uncertainty.

If I didn’t take steps to push myself, I seriously doubt I would’ve taken my first solo trip, let alone paraglided over mountains.

Instead of begging for a refund, I simply nodded my head and closed my eyes and ran. Soon my feet stopped touching the safety of the ground.

My mind jumped from “this ain’t natural, yo” to “I must take a lot of pictures ASAP.” 

Soaring over the lush landscape is impossible for me to convey in words. All I can say was my fear transformed into my trip’s biggest highlight.

Don’t I look so happy? NOT.

Reasons to Face Your Fears Abroad

Anxiety sucks. Hell, even being nervous about an event sucks. But travel is the ideal time for you to grapple with your fears and defeat them. Why? Check out my reasons!

1. Travel is an ideal way to stretch your limits. At home, you make compromises every single day and fall into simple routines. There’s nothing wrong with compromises or routines; however, when you’re overseas, no one knows or judges you, which creates ideal opportunities to push yourself far outside your comfort zone.

2. You may never return. You only live once. Have no regrets. I realize paragliding wasn’t cheap. I’m pretty damn awful with money. I’ll spend on food, clothes, experiences, and upgrades without particularly caring about my budget. (RIP my Capital One card). However, I know there are many travelers who are more budget savvy than me and refrain from spending if the purchase is “unnecessary.” Be frugal but be wise too. Paragliding above Slovenia isn’t an activity that I can easily do at home so the purchase was worth it. And, for the love of god, “I’m too scared” isn’t an excuse to pass on an amazing experience. I was scared too. Believe me. But I knew I had to run off that mountain or else I’d regret it.

 3. You can brag! Shallow, I know. But who doesn’t like to boast about their epic skydiving experiences, eh? You can be a total hero after you return home if you’re fearless enough to participate in a few adventure sports or eat a few cockroaches.

4. You’ll feel more confident about yourself. When my feet touched the ground again, I was incredibly happy that I had enough courage to run off the side of a mountain. The experience taught me that I’ve a great deal of inner strength, which shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s hard for me to admit, but I have a tendency to talk down to myself and belittle my strong qualities. If you psyche yourself out in “the real world,” facing your fears will remind you that you are an amazing person worthy of respect and your self-esteem will rise.

5. The memories will last forever. I still don’t enjoy flying. Frankly, I dreaded my 8 and a half hour flight from Munich to Newark. Yet, even though I’m not “cured,” my memories of seeing the Julian Alps from the clear skies will last me for years and years to come.

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Approaching a glorious sunset.
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More shots of an absolutely stunning Slovenia. Julian Alps = amazing!

Was It Worth It?

You look at those views and tell me if it was worth it or not. I wouldn’t take those 95 euros back. Not a chance.

What type of “scary” experiences have you done overseas? Share in the comments! As always, thanks for reading my blog!

1 thoughts on “Paragliding and Anxiety: Why You Need to Face Your Fears

  1. Caileigh says:

    This post totally resonates with me. I’m a terrible flyer. Turbulence makes me petrified that we’ll fall out of the sky, and small planes make me regret ever booking a ticket. My boyfriend of 10 years is very adventurous–he’s bungie jumped, skydived, you name it. Once, I planned a seaplane ride to some hot springs for his birthday. It was just a 20-minute flight. But it was more or less a 20-minute internal panic attack for me. I literally peed 8 times before we took flight. I say all of this yet I really want to paraglide in Switzerland next month. Though, I’m fearful that the distance above the ground will get to me, or the dangling of my legs, or maybe the spinning that could happen. How did you deal with this? What helped calm you? I’m not yet convinced that I’m brave enough to go, though I’d like to think I have the courage in me somewhere. Thanks in advance for your help!

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