I believe in living with fear. Fear is an essential human emotion. Fears can hold us back, while also allowing us to enjoy life even more. Fear makes life interesting, regardless of the situation. American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Always do what you are afraid to do.” The things we are afraid of and overcome in life are what define us, not the easy things. Fear has the capability of intensifying the moment in ways nothing else can.
But what is fear? Fear means monsters in the closet, crawling bugs, and the anticipation of what will happen tomorrow. Similarly, what would love mean if you weren’t afraid to lose the thing or person you love? Fear not only enhances our experiences, but it enhances our other emotions as well. In my case, I have always been terrified of heights. The root of my fear traces back to when I fell off of a ten-foot concrete wall. Ever since, I have never attempted to conquer my fear. To change this, I decided to jump out of a perfectly good airplane at 10,000 feet.

On July 28, 2010, I decided to put my life in the hands of someone I had never met before. My closest friend, Weston, and I decided to drive a several hours into the heart of Pennsylvania to jump out of a perfectly functional airplane. We were both petrified of heights and had all the anxiety that day to prove it. The anticipation of what would happen was making our minds race. Before we knew it, we were taking off. Having the adrenaline rush through your veins as you slowly climb to 10,000 feet was incredible. Weston and I sat cramped in an airplane that was in such bad condition; we wouldn’t have got into it without a parachute on. The plane looked as if it had not been serviced or maintained since it left the factory in the 1980’s. There were no seats, no seatbelts, no cushions, and no sound but the roar of the motor. As we sat crammed like sardines, we exchanged glances of panic and excitement. We both were eager to get out of the plane as soon as possible and take our chances with the parachutes. The feeling of not knowing what was going to happen was riveting.

Before I knew it, the side door open and an enormous gust of wind was rushing around the cabin. I slid on my goggles and squirmed up to the open door. The pilot gave me a couple seconds to let the terror sink in before he tipped the plane and dumped me out. The split seconds before I was thrown out were the most exciting and exhilarating moments in my life. Being on the edge of something where the nearest surface was 10,000 feet below you was fantastic.

I see fear as an enhancer. Whether the situation is good or bad; fear lets us know we are living. Fear is what drove me. Fear is what made life interesting that day. Fear is what brought my friend and I closer together. We had a shared experience to bond over. I believe in living life with fear because living life with the absence of it is not human. The thrill of the moment and being spontaneous is what life is all about. Fear has a unique way of putting us in those situations and making us realize certain things about ourselves that, otherwise, we would overlook. For me, jumping out of a plane made me realize how small I really am and it could all end in a second. Fear brought me to this conclusion because I was scared for my life in those 10 minutes after jumping out of the airplane. I realized what is truly important in my life. Fear can enhance our lives and bring out the true meaning in things. Living without fear would deprive one of so many feelings and experiences. But, those are the feelings and experiences that let you know you’re living, so live with fear.

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Kyle S