‘Do one thing every day that scares you. ‘-Eleanor Roosevelt
I wasn’t going to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was on the provided list as a possible excursion but I am terrified of heights and immediately crossed it off. I panic and hyperventilate. Once, when I was at the Eiffel Tour, the elevators were down for maintenance so the only way to get to the top was to climb up. It did not go well. I made it about a quarter of the way up and started to panic and had to stop. I sat on the stairs and tried to will myself down. It was so bad tourists and a security guard approached me if I needed help. It was not one of my finer moments. I should note, I had already been to the top on a prior trip so it’s not as bad as it could have been. At Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, I had a panic attack on the overlook and had to turn back as tourists were telling me to move faster. The point is, there was not a chance in hell that I would climb this bridge.
Nope, no way, no how. The Sydney Harboir Bridge climb is ranked as the number one thing to do in Australia and number 4 in the world but it was not anywhere on my list. A friend asked if I was doing it and I said not a chance. He did not appreciate that answer and asked more than once about it. He is one of the reasons I was able to do it, he told me I could and that it would be ‘epic.’ When I panicked the afternoon of and text him that the bridge was very high, he simply remarked how cool it was going to be and that I would be fine. He was right and sometimes you just need a push.
I decided, against all my worry and fear, that I was going to do it. It was also quite expensive (about $250) and I was not going to waste my money. Fortunately, my day tour was going to return at 4:30 so I could do a night climb. This worked well because I thought the darkness would help with the height and it was VIVID so it would be extra special. Then my tour was canceled and it seemed like fate that I would climb it. As I sat eating ice cream I did start to panic a bit but repeated over and over that it would be ‘epic’ and I would be fine.
I arrived about 20 minutes before my time. They ask to make sure have eaten recently and had plenty of fluids. It is quite the workout and I went in the late fall, I cannot fathom if it was the summer. You sit in a waiting area for your time to be called. You fill out some forms that you won’t sue, watch a safety video, and introductions. I was very up front that I was scared of heights and I was doing this to help conquer my fears. The staff, including my guide, Robin, could not have been nicer and are the reason why you did not hear about me on the news for being rescued atop this bridge! You have to take off any loose items and cannot bring any cameras in case they fall and hit a car/train below. There are harnesses and headlamps. I am nearside and wanted to make sure I could see everything clearly, so they gave me something to connect my glasses to the jumpsuit. You are hooked to the bridge and cannot in any way fall off.
If you are concerned about hydration, there are some water fountains along the way. After a million steps, you arrive at the top and it was spectacular. You could see the entire city lit up and the projections on the Opera House. I was in the moment and could not believe I did it. I may have cried (which should not be a surprise to anyone). It is one of those things that I cannot believe that I did. I was in the moment at all times and just in awe of what I had done! My dad and brother were very impressed when I sent the official pictures, as was Mathias and my other friends. Even now, I am completely overwhelmed that I overcame deep fear. My hands and arms hurt for a couple of days due to my death grip on the railings, but well worth it.
I am a different person after this. A few days later, I climbed a lighthouse like it wasn’t a big deal. That has never happened. I have really tried to live furiously happy and this was the moment. I was scared and did it anyway (with a bit of help Because you are never truly alone even when you are). And that’s really is what I’m striving for, to be brave when sometimes it really, really hard because if I hadn’t committed to doing this, I would have missed out on one of the greatest moments of my life.