Overcoming My Fears

This year I’ve committed to watching I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, and it’s genuinely bringing me so much joy – especially in lockdown. Should fame ever come my way, I would love to be a contestant on that show – come on manifestation, do your thing! I’ve always considered myself to be quite adventurous. Having camped every summer whilst growing up, I would bat away badgers, ants and cope with treacherous weather, among many other challenges! The premise of I’m A Celeb, comes down to overcoming your fears. We are only born with two fears; the fear of falling and of loud sounds. So it’s interesting to think that everything else is learned, and that most are irrational. During my early adulthood years, I accidentally discovered one of my fears (I suppose that’s the way they all are discovered though). I say “accidentally” because it’s genuinely something I discovered by accident, and it took me by surprise…

A few years back, I was on holiday in Cyprus enjoying the sunshine and tzatziki (although not together), having the time of my life. One afternoon I went on a boat trip. This was my very first boat trip abroad and it was very different than the kind you go on along the River Thames; there was sunny weather and crystal blue waters for a start! There was a portion of the boat trip where you get off and swim in the sea. Here there are two options for how to get into the water. You can either enter by climbing down the ladder (easy), or you can go to the top of the boat, climb over the railings and jump in. I’m sure you can see which direction this story is going in…

My boyfriend told me how much fun the second option was, and me being me, I was up for trying something new. It’s not that big of a drop, about 15 – 20 feet, I thought to myself. So I took off my sunglasses, made my way to the top floor of the boat, all the while feeling calm and collected. I then watched my boyfriend climb over the railing and turn to me with an encouraging smile. I put one hand onto the railing, when my legs suddenly turned to jelly. At that very moment, that scene in Titanic where Rose almost jumps off the ship came to mind. “Nope, I’m not doing it. There is no way I am flinging myself off this. Not for me. No thank you!” was the physical reaction my body was having, before I even got around to saying the words aloud. After a minute or so, I took a deep breath, and I climbed over. I kept a firm grip on the rails behind me, and I stared at the ocean. (Side note: My hands have gone clammy and my armpits have even begun to sweat as I write this!) I was reluctant to let go, but I did not want my fear of this thing that I’ve never done before, to get the better of me. Eventually after a lot of encouragement from my boyfriend and even the other guests on the boat, I psyched myself up. I jumped into the water, which was complete with a mighty scream. This very (dramatic) jump had much of the other guests in fits of laughter, and I think I may recall a bit of clapping and whooping – although that part may be a bit exaggerated. As I emerged from the water, I realised nothing bad had happened to me in this moment. I’ve continued to force myself to do that jump many times since, and it gets a bit easier each time, (although the thought of this now still majorly freaks me out!)

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Mist Falls Trail, Yosemite National Park

Evidently I have a fear of heights, combined with the fear of falling. Strangely enough I’m fine on planes, but if I go into a glass elevator you will most definitely witness my panic. No word of a lie, I have noticed onlookers laugh at me in amusement, at my minor freak out during the course of a five second glass elevator journey. This same scenario has played out in theme parks too. I love that sense of adventure and enjoy fast roller-coasters, but any ride where I am up super high, followed by a steep drop terrifies me. The perfect example here being Rush at Thorpe Park, and don’t even get me started on some of the rides I went on at Six Flags in California.

I can also vividly recall one hike in Yosemite along the Mist Falls trail leading to Nevada Falls. On this hike you climb beside a waterfall. The water sprays create a mist, resulting in a rainbow appearing the higher you climb. I love being active and I especially love the outdoors, but I couldn’t bear to look down the whole time we hiked. At the top I felt a sense of satisfaction, but it was the hike back down which I found the most challenging. If you want to see my internal panic, there was also a similar moment I captured during my Wales Vlog at 7:01 – 7:18. On the Yosemite hike, there was however a humorous moment which broke my tension. I was trying my best to hold back the tears and a fearless girl who must have only been about seven years old, marched right past me, brave as can be! Who knows, it could have been the Ghost of Christmas Past, reminding me of what I too used to be like as a child.

So what have I learned? Well, I know I will continue to force myself to climb a few more peaks in the future. I will also try to push myself to do more things that scare me. Throughout each of these moments, I persevered and I certainly don’t regret doing any of those activities. I’ve learned that quite often on the other side, once you push through the fear and discomfort, that’s where growth lies.

However, should I ever have to abseil down a cliff backwards like they did on I’m A Celeb, I would probably react the same as Jordan North and let my nerves get the better of me. Nonetheless, I know that I am far stronger and capable than I give myself credit for and I should not let my fears hold me back – whatever capacity that may be in. That being said, I can’t imagine myself jumping out of an aeroplane just yet… Maybe one day!

What’s one fear you have tried to overcome? Let me know in the comments!

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Being a Brit in the USA can have it’s perks. It’s easy to strike up conversation, as people seem to instantly like you for your “cute” accent. However, it can also be quite interesting to be a Brit in the USA for other reasons. Here is a list of things that I wish someone had told me before I visited America for the first time, as well as some of the downright obvious differences between the two!

Everyday Life

  • Everything is back to front. The doors lock on the opposite way to the U.K. This is a good reminder if you’re fumbling at the door with your keys at 2am whilst slightly inebriated…
  • Washing machines are not in the kitchen, but are in a separate room
  • Only the minority of people hang their washing outside (at least in California). This was very surprising considering California is one of the hottest states, yet everyone uses tumble dryers – even in the Summer. In comparison, there are us Brits who run outside when it’s raining to collect the washing from the line, come Winter or Summer!
  • All cash looks deceivingly similar. Just use your Monzo or Starling card to save the hassle for larger purchases, and save your dollar bills for tipping
  • TV adverts come on (what feels like) every 5 minutes in America
  • Farmer’s Markets are a great way to support local businesses, save money and have an enjoyable evening out
  • Kettles just aren’t a thing in the USA
  • Plug outlets don’t have on and off switches, unlike the U.K.
  • Marijuana is legal in some states
  • Even me (a very positive and optimistic person), fairs slightly cynical in comparison to my American counterparts
  • Despite the same language, the lingo is quite different. My brother’s wife (an American herself), sent me this message me before we travelled and I’m glad she did!
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Driving

  • To rent a car you typically need to be at least 25. If you are younger than this, expect to pay heftier prices!
  • In the U.K. you drive on the left hand side of the road, vs in the States you drive on the right hand side. I did have one scary but short incident, where we accidentally drove on the wrong side of the road. Luckily (or not as it may be) it was dark and there were no other cars around
  • You can turn right on a red light
  • Everyone pretty much drives an automatic car in America vs. “stick” (manual) which Brits learn to drive on!
  • When filling up petrol, prepay first with your card or go into the petrol station and say how many dollars worth, you want to fill up your tank. Proceed to fill up your car’s tank, clicking the button to hold up the pump. If you filled up less than you paid for, go back into the store and collect the change
  • Some streets have cleaning days; remember to read the signs and move your car if necessary to not get fined
  • Read the parking signs everywhere and double check with passers by so your car doesn’t get towed…! (3 guesses what happened to me)
  • You don’t pay for parking in shopping malls unlike the U.K.

Tipping

  • In the U.K. a standard tip is 10% for your meal. Although, I was aware that tipping is a big part of hospitality culture, I learned that (roughly) you should tip 15%= good service, 18% = great service and 20% = excellent service
  • Tip a dollar per beer, but more if you’re ordering (a complex to make) cocktail, like a Mojito
  • What I didn’t know is how to tip. For anyone who hasn’t been to America I’ll state what seems obvious to Americans. If paying by card, when the waiter comes out to collect payment, don’t input your card pin straight away. The restaurant/bar will scan your card first, The waiter will return with a receipt for you to write down how much you are paying plus the tip. The tip will be collected from your account at a later date. In the U.K. just add your tip at the end of the meal either by cash or card, and it will be taken at the same time!

Going Out

  • Baseball fans of opposing teams sit all mixed together in the stadium, rather than on separate sides like they do in the U.K for football matches
  • (As a tourist) if you wish to buy an alcoholic drink at any baseball game etc., take your passport with you. Without it you won’t be served even if you have another form of identification, such as your driving license
  • You need to ask for “ice water”, if you would like some water with ice
  • Expect to pay more at the end of your meal, as tax is added on afterwards
  • The National Parks are huge and amazing! Plan to spend extra time to really explore these beauty spots
  • Be safe and ask for recommendations from locals or hospitality staff, on which areas or streets to avoid on your travels
  • Buy travel insurance to cover any medical costs – unlike the wonderful NHS, health insurance is essential in America
  • There is and never will be an establishment that compares to a British pub!

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