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Tiane Davis free falls with a skydiving instructor after jumping from a plane.
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The secret to skydiving: First, brush your teeth

An adrenaline rush brings clarity to the best practice for facing personal challenges.

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LEXINGTON, Texas — As my skydiving instructor opened the door and a rush of wind blew in, I gazed at the world below us.

My stomach dropped.

Everything on the ground looked so small, which only reminded me how far I had to fall before I could safely stand on two feet. We were in the clouds.

Tiane Davis and her friend Crista prepare to jump from 10,000 feet in the air.

Tiane Davis and Crista Paik prepare to jump from the open door of a plane.

I felt there was an eternity between me sitting on the plane and me standing safely on the ground. I had never been more scared in my life.

My instructor began counting the eternity down.

“3 … 2 …”

I reminded myself to breathe.

‘Just like brushing your teeth’

I’d been here before.

I was petrified the first time I tried jumping off a diving board.

I felt the same pit in my stomach. The same “NO” repeated firmly in my head. The distance between me and the water felt like miles.

I was around 10 years old at the local pool in Linton, Ind.

I walked up to the edge, stared at the water below me and — climbed back down. After a couple minutes, I climbed back up and began again. I rocked my body forward and backward as I tried to get myself to jump. I couldn’t. The third time, I tried a running start.


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This whole display occurred with about a dozen children lined up behind me, each much younger and smaller than me. I believe a 3-year-old jumped off the board with no hesitation.

How embarrassing for me.

All this to say — I shamefully never jumped off the diving board that day. But I do remember what one of my brother’s friends told me.

“It’s just like brushing your teeth. Sometimes the hardest part is just making yourself put the toothpaste on the toothbrush. Everything else after that is the easy part.”

“It’s just like brushing your teeth,” he said. “Sometimes the hardest part is just making yourself put the toothpaste on the toothbrush. Everything else after that is the easy part.”

I still think about that advice daily.

Signing our lives away

When I went skydiving on Independence Day, those words again were helpful.

I have never taken the time to sit down and write a bucket list. But if I had, I know skydiving would have been at the top of it. Skydiving is one of those things that seems cool to have as a life goal — I just never thought I would actually jump out of a plane.

Around May, I started telling people I might give it a try. The more I talked about it, the more I felt like I could do it.

Eventually, I researched places to skydive in Dallas, because my friend Crista, who lives there, said she would join me. When I found a place nearby that had good reviews, it was decided.

We put down our $50 deposits, signed our waivers and anxiously waited. The paperwork said something about dying. I pretended not to notice.

Tiane and Crista pose before skydiving.

Crista Paik and Tiane Davis pose for a photo in their skydiving gear.

It’s one thing to pay a fee and essentially sign your life away, but it’s a completely different thing to actually jump out of the plane. I tried to believe that once I did it, everything that followed would be easy.

But no matter how much I thought about the proverbial toothpaste on the toothbrush, falling to the ground at 120 mph from 10,000 feet in the sky was still scary.


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My body panicked when we arrived at the drop zone and saw our small aircraft. Flying in a vehicle the size of a pick-up truck no longer sounded fun.

We watched a group go ahead of us.

“They fell really quickly,” Crista pointed out. I had noticed.

Then we were up.

As the plane took off, Crista and I traded nervous glances. At least the view was pretty — the fields below us spread out like a green patchwork quilt.

Our instructors strapped themselves to our backs as the plane climbed. Whether we wanted to or not, we were all going down.

The secret to skydiving

“1 … jump!”

As the wind roared and the ground approached, I realized what people meant when they said, “Skydiving isn’t as scary as you think it is.”

I felt like I understood the secret to skydiving as I scanned the sky above and tiny fields below, even though I had known it the whole time.

Tiane Davis free falls with a skydiving instructor after jumping from a plane.

Tiane Davis free falls with a skydiving instructor after jumping from a plane.

You know it, too.

The secret to overcoming a fear is simply doing that which scares you.

It is the same toothpaste wisdom my friend had given me years ago. No matter what method you use for motivation, it all comes down to the same solution: Just do what it is you fear.

“No matter what method you use for motivation, it all comes down to the same solution: Just do what it is you fear.”

However, knowing the secret and understanding the secret are two completely different things.

Before I went skydiving, I could have said I knew the secret to skydiving. But I didn’t understand the secret until I jumped out of the plane.

Treating every challenge as if it were a secret to understand can be another way of motivating ourselves to overcome it.

I won’t understand the secret to sharing my problems if I don’t first tell someone I am struggling.

I won’t understand the secret to apologizing to a certain person if I don’t tell them I am sorry.

Tiane and her skydiving instructor parachute to the ground.

Tiane Davis glides above farmland after jumping out of a plane at 10,000 feet.

I won’t understand the secret to forgiveness if I don’t know what it feels like to forgive.

You can uncover a lot of insight about yourself — and others — if you can convince yourself to take that first step and jump.

Ten thousand feet later — with the partial knowledge of life’s secret — Crista and I landed safely on the ground with wind-whipped cheeks and smiles on our faces.

TIANE DAVIS, a multimedia journalism student at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., was The Christian Chronicle’s intern this summer and is now serving as a student voice on the Editorial Board. Davis, a native of Worthington, Ind., is the editor-in-chief of Harding’s school newspaper, The Bison.

Filed under: Courage Fourth of July Independence Day Opinion Overcoming fear Skydiving summer intern Top Stories Views

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