“The easiest way to get over something is to do what scares you,” suggested Jenna O., a young woman who faced her anxiety head-on and won. And she wasn’t kidding!
Jenna works part time at her local YMCA and takes classes at Kent State Stark, with the goal to become a Sign Language interpreter in the future. Jenna’s friends and family used to describe her as quiet and shy. All that changed when she decided to take on her anxiety and push her fears to the limit. Jenna, who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, set her sights on a sky diving trip in honor of her 20th birthday.
“My anxiety was hurting me physically,” Jenna admitted. “I had it for 10 years and I just got sick of it.”
Jenna explained that when her anxiety would get the better of her, she would try to convince herself to tackle whatever fear she was facing at the moment, like speaking in a group. She called those breakthrough moments when she could summon up the courage to do something, sky diving moments. “I used that phrase for a long time and decided to put my money where my mouth was.”
Jenna shared her experience leading up to the jump, calling it terrifying. “I couldn’t back out now though because I had told everyone about it,” she recalled. However, everything changed when Jenna and her instructor left the plane at 5,000 feet in the air.
“It was the most peace I’ve had since my anxiety started,” she said contently. She talked about the 30 seconds of nothing, the quiet after the shoot opened, and then seven to eight minutes of just floating.
“Everyone was screaming [for me]. It was the best feeling ever,” she beamed.
“This was her ‘meant to be’ moment,” her Summit DD Service Coordinator Casey said proudly. She has been with Jenna for a number of years. Casey has always been impressed by Jenna’s desire to learn, but she has noticed a big difference since Jenna decided to face her fears head on. “This is a new Jenna. She has a confidence in her that she didn’t have before.”
“Now I find it easier to talk to people after skydiving,” Jenna stated. “If I can jump, I can talk.”
She isn’t ready to back down now either. With her new-found confidence and ability to take on what makes her anxious, Jenna has a number of fearless activities on her to-do list. She said she plans to “jump” again, as well as try cage diving with sharks or “maybe even get a tattoo.”
Jenna turned her relationship with anxiety into a true sky diving moment and won. When asked what advice she would share with other to find their inner courage, Jenna said thoughtfully, “Get as close as you can to what scares you and just do it.”
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