"For a long time in my life, I can honestly say I was afraid - afraid of the unknown, afraid of what change would bring. For this reason, I never really stepped out of my comfort zone. I would make decisions not based on what I wanted, but because they seemed like the safest option. I would also not even attempt something that seemed out of my reach just at fear of failure.
My sophomore year, I took a trip that changed everything. My friends encouraged me to join them in a hiking trip over our spring break, which already took me out of my comfort zone as I had never been hiking before (my family isn't very outdoorsy), but I love nature and thought what could it hurt. We drove to the smokey mountains and began our adventures. I was in love with the trip, every day presented itself with a new adventure and a new beautiful sight to see. We went on 16 mile hikes that demanded us to climb up mountains 6,594 feet above sea level, and traveled through paths that consisted in lush forests with stunning waterfalls.
One of the hikes we took stands out in particular. That day, we went on the trail that would take us to the Chimney Tops Mountain. While this hike was not particularly strenuous, the last bit of the trek to reach the summit requires scaling bare rock at a steep incline. You don't have to climb to the summit, but if you do, you are rewarded with pretty awesome views.
I remember being scared and saying no - I was afraid to climb to the top. What if I fell? Then I remember the voice in the back of my head saying that I would regret it if I didn't try. So with my heart racing, I scaled the side of the rock and made it to the summit, and I was completely rewarded with the most gorgeous 360 degree view of the mountains I had seen. And to this day, it is one of the best experiences I've had.
There is a Will Smith speech in which he says "The point of maximum danger is the point of minimum fear." This moment climbing the mountain made me realize exactly that. Pushing ourselves to do things we perceive as dangerous is ultimately the most liberating feeling. For that reason, I no longer live in fear. If something is scaring me irrationally, I no longer let that fear keep me from doing it. Instead, I push through that fear, because the reward is pretty breathtaking."