Anna’s Advice: Follow your Bucket List

Anna Jerrems

Ever since I was 7 years old, I’ve really loved the concept of bucket lists. I wrote my own in pink and blue sparkly pen that’s been taped to my closet door for 10 years. Parasailing, meeting Hannah Montana, and dying my hair hot pink all make my list of things I want to experience before I die. But the one thing on my list that I absolutely must do—skydiving.

Going up in a plane, reaching 17,000 feet, strapping yourself into a onesie and a backpack, and jumping out while clutching onto your instructor for dear life may seem more than a little horrifying. I’m not an adrenaline junkie, I’m mildly petrified of heights, and I get motion sickness on long, bumpy car rides. So why on earth would I willingly fling myself out of an airplane?

Well for several reasons. For one, I think that it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that I may never get the chance to do again. How many people do you know that’s been skydiving? I will never be 17 again so the time is now, not later. Life is about taking risks and sometimes that means free falling, literally, into the unknown. Still, some may claim that it’s dangerous and why would you even take the risk? “Um, hello? You could DIE,” my mother exaggerates after I tell her the endeavor I hope to embark upon. Jokingly, I respond by telling her, “well I’ve had a pretty decent run, I’d be satisfied with my life if that’s was how I was supposed to go.” She scolds me for even saying that and I tell her that I’m going to do it when I turn 18, regardless of her opinion. She stills questions why I would ever want to do it, but I think the better question to ask; why not?

Will Smith went skydiving in Dubai and describes his experience in an inspiring video that’s going viral.

“Everything up to the stepping out, there’s actually no reason to be scared. It only just ruins your day,” Smith explains.

“The best things in life are on the other side of terror. On the other side of maximum fear are all of the best things in life,” Smith said.

This quote strongly resonates with me because I have had countless experiences that have been ruined due to an unrelenting sense of fear. I am a worrier and a bit of a control freak. I think about the worse-case scenario in any situation and try to control possible outcomes. This self-induced anxiety is ultimately exhausting and often seems endless. So forcing myself into a highly stressful position seems a bit destructive, doesn’t it? A more productive way to combat anxiety is to do something relaxing, like getting a massage or a maybe even a shrink. However, the way I see it is that in order to waver the worry is to face it head on—welcome it as an old friend and appreciate the adrenaline it may produce.

My dad has traveled the world, been to every continent, and has seen things that I only dream of being able to see for myself. From walking across once-active volcanoes, spending his summers in the frontiers of Alaska, to living in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower as a teenager, he has seemingly done it all. In his twenties, he spent a couple weeks taking a skydiving prep class, hoping to add another adventure to his growing list. However, when the course came to an end and he was legally allowed to skydive on his own, he chickened out. Although he has never admitted it, he begrudgingly explains that he “just couldn’t do it.”

So, in an attempt to prove him that I am capable of doing things that he can’t, in an attempt to show that fearing life is worthless, and in an attempt to prove to myself that I’m more courageous than I believe, I will in fact, willingly fling myself out of an airplane.

November 27, 2017, on my eighteenth birthday, I will be suiting up and taking off.