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“Don’t be such a wimp, just jump!” I glanced up to see the smirking face of a blonde riding the chairlift above me. For the past five minutes, I had sat perched atop a fifteen-foot boulder directly under Snake Creek chairlift, snowboard strapped to my feet, debating whether I could jump or not. Several times, I had slid towards the edge of what I came to call “the rock”. Each peek down prompted an immediate topple backwards. Zean, my brother, sat waiting for me at the bottom of the rock. After seeing the same people passing on the chairlift more than once, he declared that he was hungry. The moment had come; I needed to decide: to jump or not to jump. I chose not to jump. I slumped down the side of the rock and followed my brother to the lodge. Disappointed by my failure, I hid my face in my mittens and refused to lift my head. Maybe I was a wimp – one of those kids who never risked anything.
I have been terrified of heights since I was a child. I would stand at the top of a single floor staircase and recoil in horror at the height. My friends would tease me about my unreasonable fear and I would laugh nervously with them as I inched away from the stairs. Taking up snowboarding defied my fear of heights. I could not snowboard if I could not ride the lift. I eased my panic of falling off the chair by seating myself on the end where I would hug the bar that rose from the bottom of the chair. As I improved in snowboarding, I challenged myself to learn new tricks at greater heights. That brought me to the rock. The idea that my feet, while firmly planted in my snowboard bindings, would be floating fifteen feet above the ground made my heart flutter.
Even with that image in my mind, I could not allow myself to be a coward. I made up my mind that the next time, I would jump. As before, Zean jumped first and sat at the bottom, expecting another long wait. I rode to the top of the rock, pausing briefly. Taking a confident breath, I slid off the edge and landed a second later in a heap at the bottom. Above me I heard exclamations of amazement from my male snowboarder counterparts. I glanced at my brother who was grinning in agreement with the cheers. Grinning in response to the cheers, I reflected on my feat. I, the girl who refused to stand atop a flight of stairs, had just jumped a fifteen-foot boulder. I had seen many people fail or refuse to jump that rock. I would do it three more times that day, stopping only when the resort closed.
Even though I jumped the rock, I still have a fear of heights. The difference between me before and after the rock is that I no longer feel confined by my fear. I now look forward to confronting and conquering other “rocks”, and most other challenges that come my way.
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