Working in skydiving we have the unique opportunity to see people at two extreme ends of the emotional spectrum; nervous and anxious with anticipation before their jump, and filled with confidence and adrenaline after landing safely. Seeing people’s reactions upon landing reminds us all day every day why we love the business we are in. But what motivates people to come out for a skydiving experience in the first place? What is their story, and where did they sum up the courage to jump out of a plane 2 miles above the earth? We get such a small glimpse into the lives of the people we take for a skydive, but we absolutely know when we have met someone truly special. And this week, we met Tasha…
Tasha showed up with so much enthusiasm, had I not known better, I would have thought she had just landed from her skydive. She was excited, confident, exuberant and I immediately knew we were going to have fun with her and her daughter! Tasha showed no sign of trepidation, she was determined to do this and wanted to experience making the mental choice to overcome her fear. She laughed and giggled her entire skydive, landed with tears in her eyes, hugged her instructor and her daughter, and thanked our entire team a million times over for the experience. It seemed as if we had just made a mark on her life she would remember forever, but we did not realize she was going to leave a mark on our lives in return.
I asked Tasha if I could talk to her and learn more about her story, to which she happily obliged. We laughed and joked reliving her skydiving experience. I told her I had watched her video over and over, smiling ear to ear at her beautiful reactions, and that if she couldn’t motivate someone to skydive no one could! Tasha explained that skydiving was something she had always wanted to do because she loved having opportunities to face her fears and make a conscious decision to overcome them. She told me how every year for the past 4 years she signed up for the staff talent show at work, with no plan and no “talent” to display, simply for the sake of feeling that moment of facing a fear and thriving through it. She then told me there was a time in her life where she was not this outgoing; a head down, sit in the back of the class, never raise her hand, shy, timid version of Tasha. This was something I simply could not picture. How could there have been a Tasha that didn’t shine brightly and make you smile with her laugh?
Tasha began to speak very candidly with me, telling me about a time in her early twenties when she was trapped in an emotionally abusive relationship. “When someone you love tells you all of these negative things about yourself for so long, you start to believe it. And I let him take my joy away from me.” Tasha told me how for six and half years she endured this trauma, and never once said a prayer. One night, she prayed to God, “If you get me out of this relationship, I promise I will never go back.” Shortly after this night, her relationship turned physically abusive, and Tasha knew she needed to leave but did not know how to safely. Through an unexpected and obscure series of events, her boyfriend was arrested for assaulting a thief who was in police custody. Tasha saw her window and took it. She shut off all the utilities to her home, locked the door, and left with no intention of looking back. She called her father to apologize for leaving behind belongings her family members had given to her. He responded “Tasha, we can replace those things, we can never replace you.” Tasha explained how after escaping her abuser she promised herself she would never let someone take her joy, never let someone dull her light, and never let fear dictate her life again.
Tears filled my eyes as I listened to her story. I could not imagine a world without the version of Tasha I had the honor of meeting. Her energy is infectious, but even more, her courage is limitless. Tasha, thank you for being so vulnerable and opening up to us. Thank you for sharing your story, for inspiring us with your strength, and for trusting us to be part of your skydiving experience. In the words of Tasha, “Don’t ever let fear hold you back from experiencing your own life!”. The world needs more Tashas!!!!