Standing on the ledge, I glance down at the ocean looming beneath me.
“Alright, here we go, Kimberly.” says a man’s voice. I’m so petrified I can barely force the words from my mouth.
“Can I have a second?” I manage to utter.
“No, the wind is bad today. You have to go right now! Alright, on the count of five: one, two, three,” My mind finally processes what he is saying. I don’t have time to hesitate. “Four, five!” Closing my eyes, I lean forward and feel my body hurtle into the open air.
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I went bungee jumping during one of my final weeks in New Zealand. The jumping experience can be compared to my experience in New Zealand as a whole: exhilarating, freeing, and terrifying.
When my parents approached me with the idea of moving to New Zealand, I hardly thought they were serious. They had mentioned moving to exotic countries before, and I thought that their words held as much substance as a poorly written romance novel. Not this time. A few months after the initial idea, I found myself in an airport in the foreign country. This is the first time I experienced the bungee jumping principle: Trust your safety equipment, and let yourself embrace the fall. I stood in a country that I did not call my home. I did not know common practices or customs. Despite all my fears, I knew I had my family, my faith, and my belief in myself. These acted my safety equipment. I plummeted into the unknown, but I trusted in what constantly kept me safe.
Because I did not attend school in New Zealand, it would have been easy to float through the five months completing nothing. However, I always have always possessed a craving for knowledge, so I nurtured my mind. My family visited as many historical monuments and museums as we could find. These scholastic experiences were interesting, but nothing compared to the deeper education I gained. I had to learn how to interact with people whose value system differed from my own. My comfort zone was so distant that I knew I could not run there whenever I wanted. I had to stare my insecurities and fears straight in the eye. My education was far from traditional, but I learned more in those five months than I would have learned in an entire year safe at home.
As I fall from the Auckland Bridge, connected to the safe ledge with only a bungee cord, a smile spreads across my wind-plastered face. My heart seems to try to escape from my chest, not from fear, but elation. I know that if I had not jumped, I would have been completely safe. I had chosen to jump anyway. I had learned from my time in New Zealand the truth and application behind the profound statement attributed to William Shedd: “A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
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