A Leap of Faith
I am in my rock climbing class climbing up a thirty foot pole to do something called “The Leap of Faith.” I have to jump from the pole and grab a trapeze that hangs several feet away. I am short. I do not think I can reach it. What made me think this class was the appropriate way of pushing myself out of my comfort zone?
I am standing up on the pole now, trying to distribute my weight evenly between my feet which barely fit within the pole’s diameter. I glance down and the ground seems to move away from me making my potential drop distance look exponentially larger. I am afraid of heights. I look away. Maybe if I focus on a point on the horizon, I can take my mind off the height.
The Colorado wind hits my back, threatening to push me over the edge if I do not jump soon. I have been up here for several minutes wondering when I will get the second of courage I need to jump. I am strapped into a harness for safety and my classmates hold the ropes that are supposed to save me if I miss. But what if they mess it up?
From the ground, my teacher screams at me to jump, and I feel like yelling profanities back at him. I do not want to jump to my potential death. I could end up paraplegic for life. I want to climb down, but something tingles inside of me.
The only thing worse than jumping from the pole and missing, is climbing down and giving up. I stare at the trapeze. What if my classmates do not catch me?
What if they do? I jump. There is a moment mid-jump, when I feel as though time slows down. I am flying through the air, reaching my arms out for the trapeze. It is right there; I can grab it. I can.
I miss and fall. I am going to miss my family. I am caught safely on the ropes by my classmates and I am filled with a sort of overwhelming pride. I stood face to face with a challenge and I accepted it. Now I cannot wait to try it again.
My family was born and reared in Puerto Rico. I was born there and when I was eight, I moved to Colorado. My parents took a chance in moving to Colorado. They knew that the United States would provide better academic opportunities for me. They also knew that the move could be traumatic for me.
Language and cultural barriers could prove to be obstacles that would make the entire move be counterproductive. I could be seriously frustrated because I did not understand or because I did not excel as well as I was used to. I could have been bullied or teased by the other kids because I had an accent and made countless mistakes when I talked. I could have had an impatient teacher who did not want to wait for me to understand what was going on. My parents took a risk and none of those things ever happened.
I did not care how many times I butchered a word’s pronunciation or spelling. I kept trying anyway. Buk. Buuk. Book. I would try and try again. My classmates did not make fun of me because I spoke differently; in fact, they seemed to like me for it. My teacher took on the challenge of having a student who could not speak English and made sure I had every tool I needed to succeed, including the proper encouragement. My third grade year was not anything less than a blessing.
I took a chance in seventh grade and tried tennis. I had never held a racket before. I can proudly say that there were others worse than I. By freshman year, I had made the varsity team. By my junior year, the team had voted me captain.
I also took Rocky Mountain High which is a rock climbing class, and the sole purpose of my taking it was to conquer my fears, in this case, a fear of heights. I ended up learning much more. I learned team work, I learned friendship, and most important, I learned trust.
Now, I am making my way up another pole getting ready for my next jump. I am fighting for a chance to go to the college of my dreams. My effort and hard work have paid off. I have realized how big an impact a little risk can have. There is one thing that has primarily made me who I am. I have learned to acknowledge that sometimes in life you have to take a Leap of Faith.