Hey all. Warning, long post ahead.
I'm a baby skydiver with 10 jumps, fresh out of AFF. All of my jumps went great and I love the feeling of skydiving, but at the same time, I'm always thinking about how afraid I am for my next jump even when I'm not at the DZ. I'm exhausted and I don't know if I can take the anxiety anymore. I'm not sure if I should accept that maybe skydiving isn't for me or if there's anything else I can do. Looking for any advice or personal experience to help me out!
I came into skydiving from a unique background. I've worked at a tunnel for years so I had about 20 hours before I ever jumped out of an airplane. I did my first tandem last summer and absolutely fell in love. I felt like I'd come home and I knew straight away I needed to do it more. I saved up for my AFF over winter and quarantine and I finally started in July. It's been 5 weeks since my course started and I graduated 2 weeks ago, except I haven't done a jump since.
The problem is that I'm terrified. I really struggled with anxiety all throughout my progression, couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, cold sweats, felt sick, the whole works. I could never really pin-point what exactly I'm afraid of. It's not door fear, or exiting, or free fall, or landing, or gear fear or any of that. Just this abstract, visceral fear. I somehow managed to finish and now the thought of doing my first real solo (that is, my first self-supervised jump) feels insurmountable. I'm terrified and for the first time I actually feel like I CAN'T do it. I was all geared up and manifested last week and I chickened out and took myself all of the load.
I decided to take some time off to get my head sorted out and possibly come back to the sport next season, but I'm so embarrassed and disappointed with myself. I love jumping once I'm out of the plane. I love how surreal the free fall feels, I love flying my own canopy, I love landing. But I'm exhausted from feeling so scared all the time, and the thought of doing another jump fills me with dread and not excitement. I don't know what to do. I don't want to fully quit but at what point do I say "okay, this isn't for me."
Does anyone have any advice, or did anyone else go through something similar?