The Art of Being Scared Shitless

by Gigi Griffis

This summer, I went bungee jumping for the first time.

Yep. I weighed in, let a man strap my legs tightly (pins and needles, anyone?) into a harness, hobbled onto a gondola, watched as the gondola slipped halfway up the mountain, stopping over a blue-green alpine lake, tried to keep my breathing even as the other jumpers leapt, stepped, or fell out of the gondola attached to a thick bungee, and then stepped up myself, trying not to look down while they tightened my straps, hooked the bungee to my leg harness, and counted down (far too quickly) 3, 2, 1.

I tried to look at the camera as I pushed off the gondola into nothingness. And “look at the camera” was my last sane thought before panic swallowed me whole.

I don’t remember the scenery. I didn’t experience any sense of euphoria. And when they finally lowered me into the little row boat and unhitched my legs, saying “you’re in the boat now!,” all I remember saying is “Oh my god, I LOVE the boat.”

Even writing about it now—months later—I feel shaky.

It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my life.

But here’s the thing: I’m still glad I did it.

Not because I liked it (I most certainly did not). Not because I have bragging rights or feel particularly big and bad. Not even just because I faced something I was afraid of and emerged unscathed (though that’s certainly true).

No. I’m glad I jumped out of that gondola, hurtling more than 400 feet straight down before bouncing back, because that choice is a reflection of the person I want to be.

The kind of person who doesn’t just dream big, who doesn’t just talk about all the awesome things she’s going to try, but who actually does things.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it is that separates people who succeed and people who stay stuck right where they are. And, honestly, even though there are a lot of complicated factors, I think the main thing is simply this:


What separates those who stay from those who go is usually (though I won’t go as far as to say always) not luck or finances or even hard work. It’s the willingness to do the things we say we want to do, try the things we say we want to try, take the first step and then the next step and then the next step toward whatever it is that we want.

Whether what we want is to set our own hours or to write a book or to have an adventure or to jump out of a gondola.

Not every adventure turns out the way we want, but, as for me, I’m still glad I’ve taken all of mine.

And so I’m glad I jumped out of a gondola—a thing I was simultaneously curious and afraid to do—even though I probably won’t be doing it again.

Because I’d rather do the things that intrigue me and scare me. I’d rather take risks and push myself. I’d rather do something crazy and discover later that I hate it. Than to never even try.

Let’s always try.

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My bungee jump was free, courtesy of AlpinRaft—an adventure sports company in Interlaken that offers not only the terrifying gondola bungee, but also canyoning, trekking, paragliding, and pretty much any other outdoor activity you can imagine here in Switzerland, most of which are probably way less terrifying.

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Jenny P October 9, 2014 - 9:06 am

Succinctly put. Movement.
In Australia I think ‘movement’ equates to ‘having a go’. That’s how we ended up living in Milan for a couple of years, while most people at our stage in life are saving for their retirement. Plenty of time for that, when we go home!

gigigriffis October 9, 2014 - 10:43 am

Love that. Enjoy Milan!

Neens October 15, 2014 - 8:23 am

You are so brave! And I mean in general, not just because of the bungee jumping (although the mere thought of that is enough to scare me shitless!), but the permanent travelling (avec chien!), creating your own business, then taking your business in a new direction – trust me, you already ARE a doer! :-D

gigigriffis October 15, 2014 - 10:34 am

Thank you!


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