The last time I lied while calling in sick for work was when I lived in Snowflake, Arizona. I was a sophomore in high school & working at a place called World Cafe. It was one of the last weekends of May that year, & we were inching towards summer break. Moreover, in less than one month, I was going to be leaving my hometown & moving away to California. Although I was filled with excitement for finally being able to dip on out of the dreary middle-of-nowhere, I felt heavy for having to leave my friends. I intended on spending as much time with them as I could before leaving, so I decided to call my boss on a Saturday & tell him that I couldn't make it. He had always been a cool guy--only ten or so years my senior. Even though I'm positive that he knew I was lying, he let me have the day off. I hit my girls up quick that morning--keeping their iMessages dinging as I tried to spontaneously pull together a day's outing. Around noon, Rosa, a close friend of mine since the 7th grade, picked me up in her boyfriend's car. We got our girls Amber & Tania before taking off to Clear Creek to swim for the day. The road trip was less than an hour long. Clear Creek is known for its tall cliffs, so the first thing we all did was jump off of them into the water. We built our courage up by taking it slow & jumping off of the lower cliffs first. The tallest cliff we could find looked like it could have been 50 feet above the creek. At first, we were all positive that none of us would be jumping off of that one. However, after watching a group of junior high kids fearlessly leap off the cliff without second thinking it, I was convinced that I needed to do the same. After a couple of hours trying to work up the nerve to jump, I decided that I might as well just do it because I wouldn't ever stop if I kept on simply thinking about it. My heart began racing the moment that I began taking my time--and believe me, I took my time--to walk up to the cliff's top. I didn't even bother to glance downwards before jumping. As soon as I reached the cliff's edge, I kept my eyes up & my legs moving. The first millisecond of being without my feet on the ground was the longest, scariest part of the experience. I hardly felt the following 3-4 seconds of the free-fall as I then quickly met the water. After a few moments, my head popped above the water's surface & I heard the loud laughing & encouragement of my friends. As I swam back to them, I felt prideful over having faced a fear. I had been terrified by the cliff's height, but I decided to embrace the burning anxiety & turn it into a rushing thrill. Before we left the creek that day, I jumped off the cliff twice more. I often think of this story when I'm feeling self conscious or timid. I remind myself that I'm not as much of a shell of a person as I may feel like at the time; I'm a person that has the courage to jump off a cliff--and not look down.
November 27, 2017