Getting out of your comfort zone means different things for different people. For me, someone whose idea of a fun Friday night is watching Netflix on the couch, taking risks is not easy. But somehow last February, I found myself flying a mile and a half 300 feet over the Costa Rican jungle on a zipline, having the time of my life.
I’d known that our tour had planned a zipline excursion months in advance, and was thrilled to try it out. However, it was not until the morning of the trip that the pit in my stomach began to grow. As our bus pulled into the park, everyone pressed their noses against the cool glass to see the people swinging like monkeys through the trees. I could feel my classmates buzzing excitement, contradicting the cold sweat breaking out on my forehead. We were corralled off the bus and into a line to get the ziplining gear on. I panickedly asked my friends, “Shouldn’t we learn how to do it before we put the equipment on?!”. But they barely heard me over their own feverish chatter, and quickly my nails were chewed to nubs. After what felt like centuries, a young Costa Rican man began to attach all sorts of ropes and hooks to me. I must’ve asked him a hundred concerned questions about how safe it would be. He gave me a few short responses in Spanish before butchering “You will have fun!” and sending me on to what I believed to be my death.
At this point, reality began to sink in. My mind scrambled, looking for ways to get out of the situation. Nonetheless, I followed the group towards a big seating area where we would learn how to zipline. The brief lesson did nothing to ease my anxiety and instead worried me further. Somehow my body moved me towards the stairs that led up to the first trapeze. My limbs became paralyzed with fear by the time I made it to the top. I kept fidgeting with my helmet and straps to make sure that they were locked in place. By this point, my nails were nonexistent and I could feel the exposed skin throbbing. The man working gave me a broad smile and said, “Don’t be nervous!” Flashing him a weak grin, he attached shiny metal fasteners to the bulky harness covering my waist. My body shook like jello as he counted down for me to jump, and time stopped.
All I can remember from that moment is being blinded by a life-changing rush. But once I regained my bearings, I finally understood the thrill people get from ziplining. Tentatively, I opened my eyes to view the beautiful landscape in every direction. I felt the wind through the holes in my helmet and the intense sunlight shining through the trees. Down below was the greenest vegetation I’d ever seen, showing signs of the many types of life existing. I inhaled the balmy air, which filled my bones with a newfound rush of excitement. I no longer heard the joyous screams of others having fun, but instead made out bird calls and the rustling of animals in the brush. Viewing the world from up above gave me a new outlook on taking risks. It was very hard to persuade myself to zipline, but doing so was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Getting out of my comfort zone allowed me to try out a new activity that, though terrifying, was thrilling. It is important to take risks because they can lead you to new experiences that you may end up loving, though you’d never know unless you try.