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Marc_B

newbie really struggling with fear/terror

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Like everyone else has said - Congrats on the weight loss. That is a huge accomplishment.

It sounds like you have made the right decision (coming from a complete NOOB) given the amount of fear/anxiety you were dealing with. If you aren't having fun and don't see fun in the future, why do it.

I will say that tunnel time helped me transition out of my rough days early on. I was unstable, fighting the wind, and generally not having a good time because I was afraid of having to repeat a level. After about 20-30 minutes in the tunnel, I found myself smiling and having fun while chasing my instructor around doing docking exercises. Once I was smiling in the tunnel, smiling and having fun in the sky followed soon after. Between the tunnel and some other reading (Mental Training for Skydiving and Life - John J. DeRosalia), I learned to say F-it and have fun.

Your wife should be super impressed and grateful that you pushed through as much as you did. IMHO, this is definitely a sport you need to do for the love of the sport first and foremost.

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I think very rarely I have seen a more well thought explanation about the reasoning that pushed someone into skydiving.
Kudos.

The way I see it, first and foremost you have to understand: you did it, you proved to the world that you can do it, now you don't own to continue to anyone else, not even your wife. If you don't enjoy it, stop it. Skydiving is expensive, tiring, dangerous, monopolizing: if the idea that you have skydived the last weekend and that you will do it again the next, doesn't help you feel better, more relaxed, more accomplished during the week, then seriously: fuck that.
You can support your wife's passion in other ways.

That said, you also have options if you love the canopy flight, you could try the tunnel and become a hop-and-pop-only jumper. That's what I do, not because I don't like freefall, but because I love training and perfecting my canopy flight and, given the limited amount of time and resources, I chose to focus on just that when I am at the DZ.

Just know that should you decide to quit (and yes, if you stop now and given what you've been going through, I'd say that a stop of any kind right now means a permanent quit, more likely than not) , there should be no sense of shaming, or failure. You tried. You succeeded. But it didn't resonate with you, that's all.
I'm standing on the edge
With a vision in my head
My body screams release me
My dreams they must be fed... You're in flight.

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You don't have to prove anything to anyone. Skydiving is basically Russian Roulette with better odds. The chance if a main failing is 1 in 1000 and a reserve failing probably less than that due to risk of main reserve entanglements /instability.
Your trading your fun for your life. Different people place a different value on that. If humans were meant to fly wed have wings but we make our own and these are subject to malfunction. The fear/terror is your logical side. The dreamer side says it will be ok. It probably will but who knows?

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I don't think comparing it to Russian Roulette is a good analogy. There's a nonzero chance of getting killed doing a lot of things that humans do -- driving, walking, living in places where natural disasters happen. Personally I think my chances of getting killed skydiving are less than my chances of getting killed in the next big earthquake where I live (Seattle).

To the OP: if something scares you to the point that it's not fun, or if it's just not fun period, you don't have to do it. You tried it, you didn't like it. For most people, that's part of life.

I was terrified for my first few jumps, and still pretty scared up through jump 13. I would even get nervous on the drive to the DZ. I talked to a few people there, they said it's pretty normal to be scared for the first 20 to 100 jumps -- depends on the person.

On jump 14, it just clicked. And after that, my entire mentality changed.

That said -- if you really don't like it, don't do it. While the "statistical odds" of dying are reasonably low, it's still a dangerous sport -- much like rock climbing, whitewater kayaking, etc -- one in which you have to be able to keep a clear head and focus on what you're doing (I realize I don't have a license yet but I've jumped enough to know that :)
Personally, I'd give it a few more jumps to see if your mentality changes, but if it's causing you that much anxiety, don't do it. If skydiving is something you want to do, you should do it for you, not for your wife.

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Marc,
I have to agree with betzilla. My wife tried a tandem last year, but has decided to not take it up right now. She feels bad about not sharing that joy I have for this sport and would like to spend more time with me at the DZ, but I respect her decision to not to. Her taking up skydiving would also mean leaving her own passion behind - she's been an avid sailor since she was 6. As much as I'd like to spend every weekend in the air, I make time to go the occasional regatta or weekend series with her or set aside some time to do something else. I would suggest making a compromise.

If you insist upon continuing with skydiving, know that the fear will diminish. I was scared out of my mind when I started (I'm acrophobic believe it or not), but by jump 40, the anxiety level went way down and the fun factor went way up. The most apprehensive parts of the jump - and sometimes still are - were the moments when I pitched my PC and when I turned on final. Will that chute open? Will I collide with someone? But the more I jump, the more confident I become and more I'm able to transcend what fears I do have.

-JD-

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GordianKnot

I don't think comparing it to Russian Roulette is a good analogy. There's a nonzero chance of getting killed doing a lot of things that humans do -- driving, walking, living in places where natural disasters happen. Personally I think my chances of getting killed skydiving are less than my chances of getting killed in the next big earthquake where I live (Seattle).

To the OP: if something scares you to the point that it's not fun, or if it's just not fun period, you don't have to do it. You tried it, you didn't like it. For most people, that's part of life.

I was terrified for my first few jumps, and still pretty scared up through jump 13. I would even get nervous on the drive to the DZ. I talked to a few people there, they said it's pretty normal to be scared for the first 20 to 100 jumps -- depends on the person.

On jump 14, it just clicked. And after that, my entire mentality changed.

That said -- if you really don't like it, don't do it. While the "statistical odds" of dying are reasonably low, it's still a dangerous sport -- much like rock climbing, whitewater kayaking, etc -- one in which you have to be able to keep a clear head and focus on what you're doing (I realize I don't have a license yet but I've jumped enough to know that :)
Personally, I'd give it a few more jumps to see if your mentality changes, but if it's causing you that much anxiety, don't do it. If skydiving is something you want to do, you should do it for you, not for your wife.



I suppose Russian Roulette isn't an adventure sport so possibly a bad analogy. But I maintain your trading the buzz for your possible health.
The risks as I see it are-
Walking into propellor on ground
General risks on light aircraft
No seatbelts in aircraft in case of crash landing
Hitting tail on exit
Main or reserve leaving container in or just outside plane and wrapping around tail of aircraft
1/1000 failure on main and reserve
Hard opening
Collision with another skydiver in freefall or under canopy
Landing accident

Some of this risks can be managed by regulation many can't be and have the human factor.

The walking ,driving analogy non zero risk are true but they generally are for societies benefit and skydiving isn't generally although of course there is alot of charity sponsorship too and does employ people so not quite true

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lomb

The risks as I see it are-
Walking into propellor on ground
General risks on light aircraft
No seatbelts in aircraft in case of crash landing
Hitting tail on exit
Main or reserve leaving container in or just outside plane and wrapping around tail of aircraft
1/1000 failure on main and reserve
Hard opening
Collision with another skydiver in freefall or under canopy
Landing accident



Exactly two of these cannot be reduced to zero simply.

Hard openings are a real thing. Very rare, but real. Main/reserve malfunction is a real thing, but I think the chances you mention are off by a factor of several thousand at least. Millions of skydives get made without it happening.

The rest are very easy to avoid.

Not necessary glamorous. But easy.

You talk about it like skydiving is some kind of rolling of the dice, like all of these things "just happen" to skydivers. They don't.

Also, you missed "choking to death on DZ hamburger", "being struck by lightning standing in open spaces", "accidentally drinking Jet-A1" and "being trapped under the DZ vehicle" as risks.
--
"I'll tell you how all skydivers are judged, . They are judged by the laws of physics." - kkeenan

"You jump out, pull the string and either live or die. What's there to be good at?

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Joellercoaster

***The risks as I see it are-
Walking into propellor on ground
General risks on light aircraft
No seatbelts in aircraft in case of crash landing
Hitting tail on exit
Main or reserve leaving container in or just outside plane and wrapping around tail of aircraft
1/1000 failure on main and reserve
Hard opening
Collision with another skydiver in freefall or under canopy
Landing accident



Exactly two of these cannot be reduced to zero simply.
No, not a single one of those can be reduced to zero except the seatbelts. That's like saying you could make a half-court shot 100% of the time if you're good enough. Yea, but no one is just like no one is infallible to making mistakes skydiving, no matter how experienced, knowledge and safety-driven they are. Also, other skydivers can make a mistake and even if you're completely perfect in every way, their actions can kill you. As a result, every one of those things on your list could happen to anyone who ever has or ever will skydive (except the seatbelt thing). The risk can be reduced or increased drastically depending on the skydiver's commitment to safety, but the risks cannot ever be eliminated entirely.

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I didn't say they were glamorous. But easy:

Don't want to be killed in a canopy collision? Land far away from the other people, and jump at a DZ with enough space to do that.

Don't want to be killed in a freefall collision? Don't jump with other people.

Don't want to walk into a propeller? Always approach a plane from the rear.

Don't want to hit the tail? Always exit with care.

Don't want to wrap the tail? Look after your gear in the plane, check your pins before exit, and as before, exit carefully.

Don't want to die a landing accident? Land away from other people, fly a big canopy carefully, and only jump in perfect conditions. Check the spot before you get out and stay in the plane if you're not happy with it.

These things are easy to eliminate. Not glamorous, they won't make you popular, but they are easy.

Yes, not doing these things is a mistake, and mistakes happen. But they don't just happen, like some kind of random dice roll. Telling people that skydiving is a crapshoot might be cool, but it's also untrue. If it is, then so is leaving the house (look before you cross the road), so is cooking dinner (don't leave the gas on), so is having a bath (don't fall asleep in there drunk).

We all assume some level of risk, and different skydivers tolerate different levels of risk. Some of us tolerate a lot! But the only really non-negotiable risks are plane crashes, hard openings and the one-in-a-million double mal scenario.
--
"I'll tell you how all skydivers are judged, . They are judged by the laws of physics." - kkeenan

"You jump out, pull the string and either live or die. What's there to be good at?

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Joellercoaster

I didn't say they were glamorous. But easy:

Don't want to be killed in a canopy collision? Land far away from the other people, and jump at a DZ with enough space to do that.

Don't want to be killed in a freefall collision? Don't jump with other people.

Don't want to walk into a propeller? Always approach a plane from the rear.

Don't want to hit the tail? Always exit with care.

Don't want to wrap the tail? Look after your gear in the plane, check your pins before exit, and as before, exit carefully.

Don't want to die a landing accident? Land away from other people, fly a big canopy carefully, and only jump in perfect conditions. Check the spot before you get out and stay in the plane if you're not happy with it.

These things are easy to eliminate. Not glamorous, they won't make you popular, but they are easy.

Yes, not doing these things is a mistake, and mistakes happen. But they don't just happen, like some kind of random dice roll. Telling people that skydiving is a crapshoot might be cool, but it's also untrue. If it is, then so is leaving the house (look before you cross the road), so is cooking dinner (don't leave the gas on), so is having a bath (don't fall asleep in there drunk).

We all assume some level of risk, and different skydivers tolerate different levels of risk. Some of us tolerate a lot! But the only really non-negotiable risks are plane crashes, hard openings and the one-in-a-million double mal scenario.



Those are not the only non-random risks in skydiving. There is tons of stuff that could happen and they are effectively non-preventable. You could throw your PC, knot the handle and get a PCIT. It's happened more than once. People have died in BASE from it. Changing your packing method of the PC or toss method wont eliminate the risk. You could have lines snag on your container resulting in a malfunction that you cannot cut away. That's also happened and changing packing methods wont guarantee it wont occur. I am not sure that a double mal is 1 in 1mil either. If you look at the fatalities on this website, 36 people listed on this site alone have died from double malfunctions (or more specifically, 'reserve problems'). That doesent include everyone and it doesent include incidents that did not result in a death.

I'd say an airplane crash is more preventable than half the stuff on your list. Almost every skydiving crash report I have ever read resulted in the NSTB either saying the pilot messed up big time or the aircraft was not maintained properly. I cant recall any incident report where the official report what that 'shit happened' and no one could have done anything about it. Almost every crash that has occurred was preventable.

I agree that you can control many of the risks in skydiving, but there is some level of random risk and even if you are the most conservative of the conservative, you could still die skydiving. Honestly, IMO the most conservative people are probably not the safest on the DZ despite what it might appear. Those who tend to be hyper-conservative also tend to get scared easily, and when they finally do face a legit emergency, they are much more likely to panic and do something dangerous (or nothing at all).

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Westerly

I'd say an airplane crash is more preventable than half the stuff on your list.



This is true, but it's not practically preventable by you as an average jumper. One of the risks I accept (along with several of the preventable ones I mentioned, honestly) when I go for a jump is that I have no idea how to maintain a plane.

I think we're having a great time arguing semantics and we probably don't really disagree... my original problem is with people (deliberately or otherwise) blurring the line between luck and care in skydiving.
--
"I'll tell you how all skydivers are judged, . They are judged by the laws of physics." - kkeenan

"You jump out, pull the string and either live or die. What's there to be good at?

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Joellercoaster

***I'd say an airplane crash is more preventable than half the stuff on your list.



This is true, but it's not practically preventable by you as an average jumper. One of the risks I accept (along with several of the preventable ones I mentioned, honestly) when I go for a jump is that I have no idea how to maintain a plane.

I think we're having a great time arguing semantics and we probably don't really disagree... my original problem is with people (deliberately or otherwise) blurring the line between luck and care in skydiving.

You can ask the pilot when the next 100 hour inspection is due. If the aircraft is being maintained properly, he should be able to give you an answer within a few seconds. You can ask to see the maintenance logs. If the DZ refuses, it's because they have something to hide. Anyone on the aircraft has a right to see that log. Those two things would go a long ways toward implying the DZ does or does not do their due diligence.

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Quote

You can ask to see the maintenance logs. If the DZ refuses, it's because they have something to hide. Anyone on the aircraft has a right to see that log.



If a skydiver asked to me show our logs I would probably oblige. Just because it would be such a novel thing. Unless they were in the aviation industry they would not be able to get any real information out of them.

Once again you are spouting off about things you know little to nothing about. Read more and type less please.

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Westerly

******I'd say an airplane crash is more preventable than half the stuff on your list.



This is true, but it's not practically preventable by you as an average jumper. One of the risks I accept (along with several of the preventable ones I mentioned, honestly) when I go for a jump is that I have no idea how to maintain a plane.

I think we're having a great time arguing semantics and we probably don't really disagree... my original problem is with people (deliberately or otherwise) blurring the line between luck and care in skydiving.

You can ask the pilot when the next 100 hour inspection is due. If the aircraft is being maintained properly, he should be able to give you an answer within a few seconds. You can ask to see the maintenance logs. If the DZ refuses, it's because they have something to hide. Anyone on the aircraft has a right to see that log. Those two things would go a long ways toward implying the DZ does or does not do their due diligence.

My aircraft logs are kept in safe, secure storage. They are important documents. I might produce them if it were convenient, but most likely I wouldn't repeatedly go and drag them out if every Tom, Dick and Tarzan demanded to see them. And not because there is something to hide. I have better things to be doing with my time.

There is nothing much to see anyway, apart from technical details of maintenance, stamps and signatures from my LAME.

And if the aircraft was not compliant, I would not be risking my backside getting into it, let alone anybody elses.
My computer beat me at chess, It was no match for me at kickboxing....

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chuckakers

***Anyone on the aircraft has a right to see that log...



The aircraft owner has no legal obligation to show anyone logs except the feds, law enforcement with a warrant, or the courts with a subpoena.

Sorry to disappoint. Any LEO, any State Agency, has the "Right" to access aircraft logs, "they are to be produced upon demand," It is actually a crime to report the presence of any FAA, NTSB, etc, agent, officer, etc,... inspector doing their job. It is a crime to not produce "logs" or any of the 5 required pieces of paperwork, amongnst other things as well. "They also have the "right" to inspect any, person, place, or thang, they want. All without any warrant whatsoever. Perhaps you could show us the laws and other interesting stuff you have used to support your claims?

This rumor needs to be quashed.

As far as aircraft, most every agency and LEO on the planet can do whatever they want. Without warrants or even probable cause. You can thank 911.

Why would you make such and untrue and incredulously false comment? The only possible result is some hapless dolt some where will get him or herself arrested for "Interfering?"
Brett Bickford Did Not Commit Suicide.

He is the victim of ignorance and faulty gear. AND as in the movie: "12 Angry Men," of an ignorant and callous jury.

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ChrisD2.0



Sorry to disappoint. Any LEO, any State Agency, has the "Right" to access aircraft logs, "they are to be produced upon demand," It is actually a crime to report the presence of any FAA, NTSB, etc, agent, officer, etc,... inspector doing their job. It is a crime to not produce "logs" or any of the 5 required pieces of paperwork, amongnst other things as well. "They also have the "right" to inspect any, person, place, or thang, they want. All without any warrant whatsoever. Perhaps you could show us the laws and other interesting stuff you have used to support your claims?

This rumor needs to be quashed.

As far as aircraft, most every agency and LEO on the planet can do whatever they want. Without warrants or even probable cause. You can thank 911.

Why would you make such and untrue and incredulously false comment? The only possible result is some hapless dolt some where will get him or herself arrested for "Interfering?"



So you're saying that the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (an Illinois State Agency) has the right to demand aircraft "logs?" I'd like to see where you are getting your information. Got a source?

While you're at it, can you also point to a source that states it is a crime to "report the presence of any FAA, NTSB, etc, agent, officer, etc,... inspector doing their job?"

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ChrisD2.0

******Anyone on the aircraft has a right to see that log...



The aircraft owner has no legal obligation to show anyone logs except the feds, law enforcement with a warrant, or the courts with a subpoena.

Sorry to disappoint. Any LEO, any State Agency, has the "Right" to access aircraft logs, "they are to be produced upon demand," It is actually a crime to report the presence of any FAA, NTSB, etc, agent, officer, etc,... inspector doing their job. It is a crime to not produce "logs" or any of the 5 required pieces of paperwork, amongnst other things as well. "They also have the "right" to inspect any, person, place, or thang, they want. All without any warrant whatsoever. Perhaps you could show us the laws and other interesting stuff you have used to support your claims?

This rumor needs to be quashed.

As far as aircraft, most every agency and LEO on the planet can do whatever they want. Without warrants or even probable cause. You can thank 911.

Why would you make such and untrue and incredulously false comment? The only possible result is some hapless dolt some where will get him or herself arrested for "Interfering?"

Ah yes, I had forgotten about that FAR. LEO's can demand to inspect documents. I was actually trying to respond to the person who said jumpers have the right to see logs, which they do not. Of course if the owner/pilot is operating properly I don't see why they wouldn't present them upon request to a jumper.


As for your question about why someone would make such a statement, as I said I had forgotten about that requirement. Turn the BBQ off.
Chuck Akers
D-10855
Houston, TX

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It's just that so many here, just foam from the mouth , they have no idea what their speaking about.

I have limited time to spend on the internet these days, don't confuse abruptness with BBQ.

All 50 states allow any LEO, of any capacity, so if the health people in any state are able to Laws,... whatever can be enforced, arrests can be made by a surprising number of people these days. the other poster is free to look up for himself.
Brett Bickford Did Not Commit Suicide.

He is the victim of ignorance and faulty gear. AND as in the movie: "12 Angry Men," of an ignorant and callous jury.

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Marc_B

I’ve never really had a desire to Jump out of a plane. ... I would give it a try to at least see if I liked it ... Still very uncertain about all of this, I decided if I was going to do a jump to see if I liked it ... When I landed safely on the ground, I was pretty sure I didn’t like it, ...



This I think is the problem. You are doing it for someone else, not you. I think when you want to jump you know it, like you know if you are straight or gay.
I'm someone that 100% wanted to, no doubt about it, and for me it was still extremely stressful and scary at the start. A lot of doubt, anxiety, sleepless nights, but something kept dragging me back to the DZ. If I was forcing myself to do it it would have been much more unpleasant.

Quote

I can’t do what everyone else there does and that I am a disappointment to all of those there that have “invested” in me, so I’m feeling like a failure.



Totally untrue. You are already doing it - you said so yourself, your jumps have been 'textbook' and you have landed safely. You're just not enjoying them like other people appear to be enjoying them.
And nobody should be disappointed in you because if you've been in the sport more than a short amount of time you understand that the sport just isn't for everyone, and there's heaps of other awesome stuff you can do that just isn't for lots of other people.

Quote

-This is probably just not a sport you can do for someone else (no matter how much you love them) and If I’m to ever move forward, I need to find reasons to do it for me.



Spot on.

Regarding your wife, I think it's natural to go through this sort of skydiving evangelism when you start. I know I did. It opens your eyes and you suddenly think everyone could and *should* do it, but eventually in time you realise that's just not the case and that a lot of people in fact just have no interest in it.

Anyway my point is you CAN do it (you've proven that) but I think you have to really want to do it to continue, because it's scary shit and expensive especially at the start.
If it's not your cup of tea and your wife does continue in the sport then she will eventually realise that this is normal and perfectly OK.

Either way you've gotta do what's right for you. :)

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Hey Marc,

There are some nice responses here so, I won't carry on for too long. :-)

I was pretty scared when I started jumping, all the way up to about 100 jumps I'd be at my desk at work freaking out but, it wasn't debilitating like your fear seems to be. I had to lie on the packing mats for extended periods before each jump and just concentrate on my breathing.

I went on my first tandem because my wife at the time wanted it for her birthday and I just wanted to see if I could even do it. I am afraid of edges so, wasn't sure I'd be able to handle jumping. We did our tandems and then she decided to get her license the next year (at The Ranch in the northeast USA, winter is a thing), it was an extra year after that when I decided (after being prodded by her friends) to actually get my license.

Maybe, you'll find your interest will come back once you've decided to stop and you're hanging around the DZ a bit. Being around the sport normalizes it a bit I think so, that could help.

I'm sure your wife loves you for the effort you've already put in and would have loved you regardless, do what's right for you.

Thank you for telling your story, being a skydiver doesn't make you a good/great person that comes from within.

Dan

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My PFF (AFF) was, to be honest, an emotional fucking roller coaster.

Horrible, crippling, anxiety throughout the day when I was going to jump. Self doubt like you wouldn't believe. My heart rate would always shoot up close to 140 and stay there for hours. The drive to the DZ, it would get worse. I had no one to talk to about it either and felt like the only one at the DZ feeling that way. Everyone looked so relaxed, and here I was a total mess inside trying to stay cool.

The days when I screwed up a level and needed a retake were the worst. I felt like a failure, going home with my tail between my legs. Feeling like I would never figure it out. "Why am I even doing this??"

But despite all that, the good days always made up for the bad ones and kept me coming back. The days when I passed a level, I was on cloud nine. My endorphin levels through the roof. Hit with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment that few things have ever given me. As a matter of fact, I still get that feeling today after good jumps when I accomplish something new, and it's why I keep jumping. It makes me happy! :)

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Volare500

My PFF (AFF) was, to be honest, an emotional fucking roller coaster.

Horrible, crippling, anxiety throughout the day when I was going to jump. Self doubt like you wouldn't believe. My heart rate would always shoot up close to 140 and stay there for hours. The drive to the DZ, it would get worse. I had no one to talk to about it either and felt like the only one at the DZ feeling that way. Everyone looked so relaxed, and here I was a total mess inside trying to stay cool.

The days when I screwed up a level and needed a retake were the worst. I felt like a failure, going home with my tail between my legs. Feeling like I would never figure it out. "Why am I even doing this??"

But despite all that, the good days always made up for the bad ones and kept me coming back. The days when I passed a level, I was on cloud nine. My endorphin levels through the roof. Hit with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment that few things have ever given me. As a matter of fact, I still get that feeling today after good jumps when I accomplish something new, and it's why I keep jumping. It makes me happy! :)



So glad yo found something that you like.

My only observation is to anyone who feels "they screwed up a Level" in their jumping progression. It pains me to hear yo say that. Not meeting a particular jump objective, only means you get to practice whatever again. Absolutely NO shame, or worries about having to "retake" a jump. They are all good man!!!!

Everyone is different and an AFF program is never a race! Imo, yo will be better in the long run when you practice more and more!

Again, glad you had some fun!
Brett Bickford Did Not Commit Suicide.

He is the victim of ignorance and faulty gear. AND as in the movie: "12 Angry Men," of an ignorant and callous jury.

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