My hands turned white as I grasped the wire for dear life. I began to shake with fear when I looked down at the ground, but the smiling faces of the Connie Maxwell kids gave me strength to keep going.
I knew that each one of them wanted me to complete the ropes course just as much as they wanted to themselves. So, I pressed on. I reached the end, and as my feet touched the ground, I heard many excited shrieks congratulating me for overcoming my biggest fear: heights.
During my summer break, I had the opportunity to serve as a summer missionary at the Connie Maxwell Children’s Home in Greenwood, S.C.
Connie Maxwell is a children’s home with four other campuses in South Carolina. The main campus in Greenwood houses 60 children. The children are separated into different homes, called cottages, by their ages and gender.
As a summer missionary, I spent every day with the children and lived as they did. I went to pool time, gym time and church with the children. Through time at the gym and pool time, I got to see what it truly means to live adventurously.
When you are surrounded by children every day, you have no choice but to experience life fearlessly. They will push you to face your biggest fears, encourage you to overcome them and celebrate with you when you conquer them.
I learned that kids do not see risks as adults do. Adults’ ideas of danger and fear hold no bars on children. Children see risk as an adventure waiting to be had.
Scientists’ research on the developing brain has given evidence to this theory. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain associated with decision making. This section of the brain is still developing in children and teenagers, and it does not finish developing fully until the age of 25, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
While serving at Connie Maxwell, I was faced with situations that sparked fear many times. The children would not rest until I overcame my fear.
One day I was at the pool watching the kids jump off the diving board. One of the children, Kristen, came up to me and asked me to jump off the diving board. I was hesitant at first, and she could tell I was afraid of diving boards. For the next 30 minutes Kristen encouraged me to jump into the deep water. By the end of her hour and a half pool time, I had jumped off the diving board four times and had attempted a front flip off the diving board. There were many other occasions when the children discovered one of my fears and pushed me to overcome it.
When I was conquering my fear of heights, the only way to get down from the ropes course was to let myself fall backwards from the suspension system. We may have fears in life, and some of them may hold us back, but nothing compares to the feeling you get when you overcome your fears. Just as I overcame my fears by diving in headfirst, we must also overcome our fears in order to truly experience life adventurously.