Exposure Therapy: The Contradictory Life of a Nervous Nelly


I paid good money to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. I willingly flung myself off a bridge. I swung from a rope above a waterfall and plunged into the water below. I’m scared of heights…

Most people picture adrenaline junkies when they think of people bungee jumping. Let me assure you that is not what I am and bungee jumping was the most terrifying think I have ever done.

 The boo-thang and I drove out to a gravel lot in the middle of nowhere. Then we traveled on foot to a secluded bridge in the woods where we met two men: one a scruffy, red headed mountain man and the other a lanky, clean shaven brunette that looked fresh outta high school. Almost immediately, the two started giving us the details about the bridge.

“The bridge you’re standing on is about 20 stories above the river and the bungee cord will catch you within 20 feet of the river and yank you back up within about 20 feet of the bridge.” The mountain man explained.

Believe it or not, knowing all that did not make jumping easier…

“Just don’t think,” the other chimed in.

The two did all the safety checks and walked us through the countdown so we knew what to expect. My boyfriend, Taylor, jumped first. He could see I was nervous and volunteered as tribute. The first jump is facing forward and the second is backward. Taylor accidentally did a backflip! The cord hit him in the face and gave him a black eye!

Fast forward to my jumps. I climbed over the rail to the edge of a small platform.

They counted, “3, 2, 1 JUMP!”

No thinking. Just jumping. I couldn’t breathe and my heart was racing.  Just as I began to register what was going on the bungee cord yanked me back up. And just like that I lost my breath again.

As the bouncing slowed, I suddenly realized I was audibly sighing sighs of relief and started laughing. They sent down a rope for me to clip into so they could pull me back up for my second jump.

Round two was no easier. After seeing Taylor’s eye, I was nervous about jumping backward and when I pulled myself up to the platform my legs were shaking. I could barely stand so I decided to jump forward again.

I was powerless as the bungee cord whipped me around like a ragdoll. Giving up all control to this bungee cord and the bridge and all the harnesses was hard but it felt so good. When coworkers and friends tell me that they could never do bungee jump because they are scared of heights, they scoff at me when I say that I am too. I have had panic attacks on the rock climbing wall while bouldering. I reach the top of the wall, accidentally look down and start to freak out. I notice the route I took is harder to get down and I don’t know if I can do it but it’s either figure it out or I go down the hard way…

Another friend told me it sounds like torture but I don’t think it is. Ever since bungee jumping, climbing has gotten easier. I don’t get as panicked because falling a few feet is nothing compared to jumping 20 stories. My frame of reference is altered and that doesn’t mean I don’t get scared of the wall anymore. It just means that now I can breathe on the way down.

We are creatures of habit and our rituals and schedules can hold us back. We put limitations on ourselves as our comfort zone gets smaller and smaller. So rather than spending my life getting comfortable, this Nervous Nelly strives to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.