Sunday morning was fairly typical for me. I was curled up on the couch with a cup of coffee and flailing a bit as I tried to fight off a small bout of social anxiety and self-doubt. (Fun fact: I’ve never been very comfortable with the whole making-friends gig. I love interacting with people and I’m damn friendly if you reach out to me, but I’m terrible about doing the reaching out myself. It’s even worse on Twitter because there are no facial/physical cues to read, so I spend a lot of time second-guessing myself in this arena.)
What I’m saying is, obviously I was being pretty productive with my time. #sarcasm
Somewhere in the midst of staring at my computer screen, wondering if I should’ve said that one thing that one time, lamenting how I must be coming across as an irritating wannabe, and generally feeling sorry for my self-perception as The One Awkward Kid in the Online High School of Life, I picked up a bit of news: Some guy was going to jump from high up.
No, seriously. High up. REALLY high.
Felix Baumgartner skydived from a capsule approximately 24 miles into the sky.
They called it the space jump because he was literally on the edge of space, at the end of our atmosphere, staring at the curvature of the Earth with the blackness of space yawning above him.
I watched the live stream for an hour and a half, often with my hands over my mouth, whispering, “Ohmygodohmygodohmygod.” They would show angles of how far he was up, and I’d start reaching for a paper bag to hyperventilate into because…DUDE. I don’t even like ladders. Scratch that, I don’t even like fucking step stools. They’re dastardly assholes, just waiting to tilt and send you crashing to the ground.
He threw himself from the edge of his little man-sized capsule and plummeted through the air, in total free fall, for over four minutes before he pulled his chute and steered his way to the ground. He threw his hands up in triumph, his family cried with pride and relief, and I sat there thinking how fucking cool it is that we have the science and know-how to allow this one crazy bastard to climb to very edge of our planet and jump home again.
And then I realized how silly I was.
On the same morning that he was spinning through the heaves, breaking records, I was worrying that people didn’t like me. That they would think I wasn’t cool.
Kind of puts your life in perspective a bit.
I am not as fearless as Baumgartner. I will never skydive from the edge of space. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be an example for me – for anyone, really – to be a little braver. To dream a little bigger. To reach out to people despite fear of rejection, fear of sounding ridiculous. To put myself and my work out there despite the very strong possibility someone won’t like me or what I create.
I am, down in my knotted-up core, a fretful, anxious creature, but I don’t have to accept that. We are what we make of ourselves.
I’m gonna keep working to make myself braver. How ’bout you?