Ok, this might be construed as cheating, but I felt inspired to re-share one of my old skydiving and life coaching columns from Blue Skies Magazine from November of last year. The column is about some really awesome people, and what exactly makes them most awesome in my eyes. And I just got to catch up with them last night. Hence the inspiration. Grateful. Super grateful. New piece coming soon, promise… got lots of fodder as always… the ridiculousness of life never disappoints! ) hahaha Stay tuned…..
Blue Skies Magazine Life Coaching Column #7
“Look Mel, No Floaties”
By Melanie Curtis
So I just got back from Nationals. Nationals is sweet. Highest level of competition in our country, like-minded skydivers all in one place, and a big fat week-long party that only gets bigger the more friends we make from one Nationals to the next. Despite the focus on competition, most people are actually there on vacation, making Nationals more than just the stage for competitive excellence, but also a social mecca for hundreds of skydivers from all over, newbie to celebrity. In fact, my I-met-Craig-Girard story actually took place at my first Nationals. If you don’t already know and love Craig personally, you have heard of him, and if you haven’t heard of him, my guess is you have been in the sport approximately one week. No worries, just do a google search and you’re in the loop.
Ok, for insight and fun, let’s travel back in time… 2002 Nationals, Melanie Curtis, FS 4-way aspiring badass secures 26th place in the intermediate class with an almost entirely clean 7-point average… I was on my way. Celebrating one night as we do, I found myself not quite sober, and face-to-face with arguably the best skydiver in history. After the obvious and genuine oh-my-god-so-happy-to-meet-you’s, I proceeded to look Craig Girard square in the face, hands in my hands, and tell him the truth as I knew it at 498 skydives, “I’m gonna be awesome. People are gonna know me like they know you.” Yes, I actually said that. After placing 26th. In intermediate. To the best skydiver in history. Good lord. Raw honesty is all you get in this column, people! To which Craig replied, “Mel… we’re gonna have to work on this confidence problem.”
Ahhh, so hilarious. Yes, I was ridiculous and ambitious in my drunken state, but the truth is, back then, I didn’t have much confidence socially. In the sober light of day, how many of us can relate to silently dreaming dreams of being a full-on rock star, while the thought of going up and talking to anyone above our level… yeah right. It’s like we’re suddenly back in high school, we’re geeks, and everyone else is a cool kid that doesn’t want to talk to us, so we just stay quiet, and stick to our side of the lunch room.
So why tell this story? To make myself sound cooler cause I’m friends with Craig Girard? Of course, yes, duh… but also to illustrate my thought that we all have that feeling of wanting to be accepted… of wanting to fit in… all while battling the twist in our stomach telling us we just don’t.
Anyone with me on this? And it doesn’t have to be just Nationals, but the DZ, or social interaction in general. That it’s less scary to jump out of a plane than start a conversation with someone new… That stepping into a sea of unfamiliar faces makes us freak out and want our floaties…
We have this idea in our heads that there is a group of cool kids and for whatever reason there’s no way these people will like us. Um… you’re probably thinking I’m gonna say, “truth is, there are no cool kids…” But I’m not… because there are. Cool kids do exist. They’re the kids, ie. peeps, ie. people sitting next to us on the airplane… they’re the people who, regardless of status— instructor or student, champion or newbie, skydiver or whuffo— are open and kind. They’re people like Craig Girard, Claire Sobba, Charles Odyemi, just to name a few… one has 20,000 jumps, one has 2,000, one has 200. Cool kids totally live in the belief that we’re all in the same family, both as skydivers and humans. They shock us out of our insecurities with their simple effort and willingness to connect.
Fast forward, 2010 Nationals… this year. I got to witness a young aspiring competitor friend of mine meet Craig and Eliana for the first time herself… after the fact, she told me all about it in a flood of disbelief that her skydiving idols were so nice and cool and actually talked to her for like EVER! I’m telling you, this girl was in shock. And that’s when it hit me. In one fell swoop, whether we have 20 skydives or 20,000, any of us can disprove that voice in someone else’s head, and for the first time give them a taste of the truth… that skydiving itself is one big crowd of cool kids… and we’re all in. Kinda helps our head too, huh? All in. Melsinore, out.
Cool kids totally live in the belief that we’re all in the same family, both as skydivers and humans.