Same World, Different View

 Jumping at CarolinaFest 2017 with Jake Jensen from SDC Core. 

Jumping at CarolinaFest 2017 with Jake Jensen from SDC Core. 

Skydiving changed my life by making me feel incredibly small...

 Miguel, Yumi, and I at Skydive Paraclete XP in Raeford, NC. 

Miguel, Yumi, and I at Skydive Paraclete XP in Raeford, NC. 

The process that happens right before one makes  a skydive is quite marvelous. You draw up a plan for the dive (or in some cases there is no plan at all). Safety check and don your gear before boarding the plane. The plane ride up is a different experience for different people but it oscillates between, napping/ taking in the nice views/ actually thinking of the jump/ or wondering what I'm going to have for dinner later. OR a combination of all these things. At around 10,000 feet it's time to do a final safety check, get off your butt, high five your friends, think about the skydive one last time.

Next thing you know, BOOM!  The green light is on and it’s time to let go. Literally. Your skydive doesn’t begin until you leave the safety of the plane behind and physically let go of the aircraft. I always get some butterflies in my tummy right at the door but they usually settle when I see my friends smile big and wide. Either myself or one of my friends signals the exit with our hands or our feet. Wave out, in and out again.  Ready, Set, SPAGHETTI! I am out of the plane and in the sky!

Even though the ground is rushing up towards me at 120mph the first thing I always do is fly my body until my friends come into view. I can adjust my body position to go fast or slow, left or right, up or down until I reach my friends and take in the view. Sometimes they’re just small black dots in a sea of blue and I have to fly fast to catch them. Sometimes the first thing I see when I leave the plane is my friend waving or flicking me off! Once my friends are found, that's when the fun begins. Things as simple as a high five or a middle finger take on a much more joyous meaning when you're 13,500 feet above the ground—when so much lies in the balance! The air literally becomes your playground. In reality, you are so high up that the distance becomes irrelevant. Even if you have a fear of heights the fear no longer has meaning. You don’t feel like you’re falling. 

 Tito, Sam, and I at Team Blackstar Skydivers annual meet-up at Skydive Atlanta. 

Tito, Sam, and I at Team Blackstar Skydivers annual meet-up at Skydive Atlanta. 

It's like you are floating over a giant map. And the clouds...they are GIGANTIC!  Wispy and layered or puffy and stacked in columns towering thousands of feet, clouds are like big mountains in the sky. And it is in these moments, when I am careening to the ground a 100+ miles an hour—in these moments when I am up so high, that I feel most small.

Before skydiving, the idea of being small and not having control of my life absolutely terrified me. The idea of failing a test, or having a sorority event go wrong, would give me severe anxiety. My nerves would bring me to tears and have me at a point in which I would not want to leave my dorm room.  Feeling small and losing control was my biggest fear, and I would turn myself into a well oiled, time- managing, efficiency driven machine to make sure I always had control. But then skydiving happened...

 Working on Standing with my friend Nick Walker. 

Working on Standing with my friend Nick Walker. 

In order to get out of the plane, you have to let go. In order to fly, you have to be willing to let yourself fall. The act of letting myself fall and losing control was what saved me. I am microscopic compared to the great wide open. My experiences skydiving have taught me that instead of feeling anxious about life, it was time to truly enjoy life. Instead of trying to control the uncontrollable it was time to embrace the beauty that comes with chance and change. Who could imagine that in jumping out of airplanes, I would find my peace. 

I would be lying if I told you that my anxiety is now, non-existent, it is something that will always be a part of me. However, it is no longer a debilitating part of me. Whenever I feel those feelings of doubt and fear creep up in the front of my chest. I take deep breaths and remember the feeing of the wind  on my fingertips or  how the world seems like a kaleidoscope of colors from up above. It helps bring me and my emotions back at ease. I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul. Skydiving has helped open my eyes to beauty of life. I still live in the same world, just a different point of view. 

May you have bright blue skies!

Author: Nadia Mercado

 

This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.
— Rumi