Fighting Fears: Canyoneering, College and Conquests

You’re standing above a vast landscape of the sea. Clear skies. Cool breeze. Sparkling ocean. And you’re standing at the edge of a cliff. Ready to dive?

Have you ever felt so scared that the hairs all over your body stand, butterflies turn into vultures in your stomach, and you feel like you’re going to poop? That’s how I feel every time.

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Heights is one of my worst fears. I don’t know how I got my fear of heights as I don’t recall any traumatic experience. I just found myself one day, around the age of 5, riding Enchanted Kingdom’s Jungle Log Jam and crying my intestines out, begging my father to just throw me over to the crew on the side of the river before reaching the upward rail.

Ironically, 2016 had been full of heights and high jumps for me.

This same month last year, I went canyoneering in Cebu with good fellows. Canyoneering’s main feature is, apparently, the canyons–which are really high FYI. Yet I did not get any hint that it also involved a lot of cliff jumping!

So, I was there, at the edge of the cliff, and my fellows were already in the water screaming weee!, while I was still up there screaming MOM!!!

After a while, I started to feel jittery. It wasn’t because I was scared to jump though. I was worried that my friends were leaving me behind. They all looked so happy, and I certainly didn’t want to miss whatever fun they were having down there.

1… 2… 3…? Okay, threeee!!! Then I finally plunged into the water. I overcame my fear of heights because I was more afraid of getting left behind. I was more scared of not tasting that special experience. I don’t always get to visit canyons, and it was scary to miss this chance.

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***

When I was in college, I stopped schooling for a while and got a job. I was young and totally hooked on earning and spending. A year later, I knew I had to go back and finish what I had started in college.

I walked into my university with the intent of taking the first step of readmission. And that’s when I saw her. She was behind Window 5 (if I remember well) for readmission applications. I approached her and asked with a kitten smile, “Ma’am, may I know the process for reinstatement?”

She responded with stuff like “Did you fill out these forms already? Did you write a letter to the College Dean? Do you have these documents? What, why not?”

I kept getting peevish answers from her that made me feel stupid and so embarrassed, and I got scared of asking anymore questions. She, along with the tedious lot of requirements, made me feel like reinstatement was going to be hell and it scared me.

It took me another year to go back and try again. At first I was hesitant, but I thought, this was already way overdue. I looked back on my freshman year and remembered my dreams after graduation. I thought of my parents who were excited for me to graduate.

At that point, I found a greater fear. The fear of not realizing my dreams and disappointing my parents. I held on to this fear as I walked back to my college and faced the grumpy lady again. She was still as scary as ever, but I held my position, politely and patiently until it was all over. It wasn’t so bad. I got reinstated! And two years later, I finally graduated.

I conquered my irrational fear of jumping into a tedious process of college readmission with a better kind of fear. There is nothing scarier than hurting  the ones that we love and not living the life that we want just because we let irrational, counterproductive fears hold us back.

***

Life is a vast, intimidating sea but it is also the most beautiful thing. We should not miss the chance of experiencing life just because we’re too afraid to jump out of our comfort zone.

I jumped off terrifying cliffs. I got one of the best experiences that nature has to offer.

I jumped at the tiresome readmission process. I graduated!

And then, I jumped at my first Toastmasters International Speech Contest. I joined the contest with the fear of messing up and not winning. But I fought it with a greater and more meaningful fear.

I was more afraid of letting the chance pass–the chance of learning and the chance of sharing my message to others.

We all have different kinds of fears. Whatever your fear is right now, take the time to think: is it a good fear or a bad fear?

There are fears that hold us back, keep us confined in our little comfort zone. And there are fears that push us to our limits so we can become better, and stronger.

We should find the latter. When times get too difficult and too scary, let’s use the good fears to fight our bad fears away. Let’s fight fear with fear.

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This was originally my contest piece for my first prepared speech contest. It was an opportunity for me to share a bit of my experience canyoneering in Badian, Cebu, and a bit of my struggles through college.

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