How Skydiving Changed My Life - Brittany Gray
by Brittany Gray | C-43319 | Derby, New York
A tandem was something I had always wanted to do, but I was just out of college and very concerned with the mountain of student loans I was just beginning to climb. I didn’t feel right about spending that much money on something “frivolous,” but if I had only known then that $250 would become my average weekly spending on the sport, I might not have given it a second thought.
I ended up justifying it, since I had settled into the income of my first real job and realized that I had some extra cash. When I got to the DZ, I was more excited than nervous, and I didn’t really know what to expect. I had wanted to fly my entire life. As a kid, whenever we had to pick what our superpower would be (should we somehow become super), mine was always, without hesitation, flight. My strongest desire that day was to get out of the plane and in the air. I trusted the staff, I trusted my nerves, and all I wanted to do was fly.
Before we even landed, I knew this was something I had to do again. And not just a tandem, but earn my own wings. I hadn’t even heard the pitch from the skydiving school yet, and I had no clue how to achieve the next step (let alone an entire license), but I knew it was going to happen. The money factor suddenly didn’t matter, though I wasn’t sure how I was going to afford it. I just knew I would figure out how.
Before I found skydiving, I graduated from college with a dual degree in English and history (possibly even less useful than a skydiving license in the real world), planned on moving to New York City to pursue writing and comedy and was working in a bank job that I had absolutely no passion for. Part of me knew I didn’t want to make the move to New York and take that path, but it had been my plan, so I was stuck on it. I wouldn’t say that I was completely at a dead end, because I had a good job and was doing all right for myself, but I was there emotionally. I wasn’t happy with anything I was doing, and I didn’t know where I belonged.
Skydiving finally showed me who I really was. There was a small internal struggle as I let go of all of my preconceived notions about my life and where it was “supposed” to go, but not long after getting my license I gave up plans to move based partially on the fact that it would be awful hard to get to a drop zone and afford jumping if I was slumming it in the big city. As much as I hated admitting it at the time, I was giving up my lifelong dream largely because I couldn’t give up skydiving. Now I’m extremely grateful for that and think of it as something that saved my life.
My life is completely different now in all the best ways possible and that’s because skydiving taught me where my priorities should really lie. I became a USPA Coach and plan on continuing to progress with instructional ratings, and I managed to make over 200 jumps in the past year alone. Someday I’ll find a way to transition solely to skydiving, but until then I will continue to jump as much as possible and live in a way that allows me to experience all the things that make life beautiful.
A few years ago, I was very much focused on forcing myself to achieve goals that were no longer relevant to who I was. I had no idea that I could find a way of life and a family of like-minded individuals who would nurture this part of me, the real me. I’ve become so much more confident in every part of my life, so much happier, and I’ve done things (both skydiving and not) that I never could have imagined doing before. Every part of my life is fuller than I ever expected it to be, and I have skydiving to thank for that.