There are only a few moments in my life this far where I have been truly terrified. Standing on a ledge over one of the tallest buildings in downtown Baton Rouge and hooked to a rope I was about to repel down is definitely one of those moments.
I was stubborn enough to get myself to the top of that ledge, but when they hooked me in and began to prepare me to repel, that was the moment I started to panic and wanted out. If I wasn’t so stubborn, I would definitely have said never mind and taken the elevator back down to the bottom.
I don’t know what my face looked like to the guy whose job it was to get me over the edge, but he kept telling me that it was going to be ok, and that I was not going to fall. He even made me stop and take a deep breath to help me loosen up.
He kept telling me to trust my equipment. I had watched dozens of others perform this same feat, I knew the ropes were safe. I knew these guys know what they are doing. But that did not take away all the terrified feelings!
Once I was finally over the edge, they make you stop and take one hand off the rope and point to the Mississippi and take your other hand off and point toward the city and smile for a picture. At that moment you are not even holding on and you really have to trust that your equipment will not let you fall.
As I started to repel down the building, I let my body take over. My hands and feet knew what to do to get me to the bottom. For a while everything went fine. Then I realized how much further I had to go, and how tired I was, and I let the fear rush in. The panic came with a shortness of breath and a gripping terror. My jerky movements on the rope were slowing me down.
I heard on the radio strapped to my shoulder, “you are doing great Amanda”. I started talking to myself in an effort to calm down. You are fine. You are doing fine. You are going to be ok.
I kept going and as I got closer to the bottom I could hear my friends cheering for me, thats how I knew I must be close. I kept going and I heard a voice telling me I only had forty feet to go. Then twenty feet. Then I felt hands at my side as my feet hit solid ground.
A huge smile lit up my face as I realized that I had made it. I started to walk, wobbling toward the door. I gave the photographer stationed at the bottom two thumbs up.
When I got back to the lobby where my friends were waiting to congratulate me, the question I got asked the most was, were you scared the whole time, or did it get better? Did you start to enjoy it?
And honestly, there were about three seconds when I was not afraid. Only three seconds. The rest of the time I was afraid. I never looked down, but I could see the reflection of the city in the glass and could tell by looking around how far away from the ground I was. I never stopped being afraid.
But being afraid did not stop me.
The greatest feeling of accomplishment I feel at having repelled over three hundred feet down a building, is not the act of repelling itself, but being absolutely terrified and doing it anyway. Being afraid and forcing myself to keep going, step by step, moment by moment. All the way to the bottom.
Being afraid is not the problem, letting our fear stop us from doing something amazing is.
*Event photos courtesy of Louisiana Family Forum*
Why were a bunch of crazy people repelling down a building on a Friday afternoon? The name of the event was Over the Edge for Adoption. In Louisiana there are 4,500 children in the foster care system and 350 children are available for adoption, according to the Louisiana Family Forum website. The goal of this event is to raise awareness and encourage people to consider adoption. For more information, click here.