Excuse the slightly predictable pun in the title of this blog post, but I want to talk about getting high. Not the kind that you might be thinking, but literally high - physically up in the trees.
Ever since I can remember, I've had a fear not of heights, but of falling. Maybe it comes from being quite tall, so I've got a long way down, or maybe from falling over in front of the whole of Year 6 at my Year 5 sports day just before I ran a race (I was so embarrassed that I couldn't focus, so yep, I lost), or maybe it's something else entirely, but whatever it is, I am just terrified of falling.
Being up high doesn't bother me as long as I'm sturdy. Give me the London Eye, Eiffel Tower or Empire State Building any day, and it doesn't matter how small the platform at the top is - as long as it's not shaking or swaying in the wind, I'm good. I actually love looking down at everything tiny below - putting the world into perspective and realising how small we are in the grand scheme of things.
Put me up on a wooden post the length of my arm and only twice as wide, secured to two trees by a thin and fraying rope, however, and it's a whole different story.
And don't even get me started on jumping off a platform to complete a zip wire - I just cannot get off the platform. What if my harness doesn't hold? Even though I know it will - even though it did the whole way until now - what if it doesn't? What if it snaps and I plummet down?
It's still something of a mystery, therefore, why I thought it would be a good idea to nominate Go Ape for a team activity day. When my suggestion was actually chosen, I somehow hoped that something would magically happen to get me over my paralysing fear before I looked silly in front of my new teammates on the first day of the year.
Except it turns out that looking silly in front of my teammates was the perfect solution to getting over my fear - and learning more about myself than I thought was possible whilst quaking almost 50 metres up.
For someone who is usually exceptionally self sufficient and hates asking for help, even just admitting that I was scared took a great deal of courage in itself. Yet I needn't have worried - my team was so supportive. The people behind me were patient and encouraging, and the people ahead gave me tips for how to face each new challenge, using their experience to help me focus and keep moving forwards.
Whilst I am unbelievably proud that I overcame my fear of falling, going from uncontrollable shaking at the start to confidently strolling across a bridge by the end, I know I couldn't have done it by myself - I would have let my nerves get the better of me and I would've been too stubborn to ask for help. I am so grateful to my teammates who were there for me, probably more than they realised, and I've learnt that sometimes the best thing to do is let go (of the safety handle), swing out and enjoy the ride. I see this as an omen for the year ahead - where teamwork, asking for help when we need it, and supporting each other through inevitable challenges will help us to succeed across the highs and lows not only of the ropes course, but also of the year ahead.