How Rebecca Cowan Shows Anxiety Who’s Boss: By Skydiving
When you start talking to Rebecca Cowan, you can immediately tell that she’s a remarkable person. Twinkly, well-spoken and engaging, she lights up everything she touches with a sense of adventure and possibility. A 22-year-old Cornelius resident, Rebecca is studying to be a travel agent, with a future that promises to be chock-full of going to new places and experiencing new things.
For all that sparkle, you’d hardly imagine that she suffers from anxiety -- but she does. However, Rebecca is not a woman who gives up easily. With characteristic verve and problem-solving chutzpah, she decided to tackle that anxiety head-on, using skydiving as the tool to do so.
“Skydiving was always something that I wanted to do,” Rebecca grins. “I feel like it is always on everyone’s bucket list. But for me it feels especially important.”
To understand the bravery of Rebecca’s decision to jump, you have to understand a little bit about the battle she fights every day. While it's accepted as a normal part of life to experience occasional anxiety, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America notes that “Anxiety disorders are real, serious medical conditions - just as real and serious as physical disorders such as heart disease or diabetes.” The people who suffer from anxiety disorders -- the most common and pervasive mental disorders in the United States, by the way -- experience anxiety that is persistent and overwhelming. This “excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations” can easily disable the sufferer, interfering with daily activities in a way that feels uncontrollable.
Rebecca decided that the best way to face down anxiety was to refuse to obey it. So -- one day, right before her May birthday -- she gave her anxiety a fat slap in the face and jumped out of an airplane. It wasn’t easy, of course.
“I get nervous about things that other people don’t, just everyday tasks are so nerve-wracking,” Rebecca notes. “[Skydiving] just felt like something I had to do, and doing it was definitely a huge step in controlling my anxiety.’
“There was a lot of overthinking on my part,” she adds, laughing. “The night before, I was researching. I was, like, okay -- what are the chances that I’m going to die if I do this? Is it safe? I was looking up statistics. But my mind was made up.”
Rebecca made her first jump on a beautiful May day -- right before her birthday, in fact.
“When that door opened, that was the biggest moment for me,” she remembers. “I was okay as we were going up in the plane because I feel like it didn’t feel real. It felt like a normal plane ride. It wasn’t a big thing, and then he opened the door. I was like... um. But I knew I didn’t want to back out. I think that door being open forced me to deal with what I was feeling.”
“I know this sounds so corny,” she adds, “but I feel like once I skydived, everything changed. You are just such a different person.”
These days, Rebecca is quick to point out that the benefits of skydiving reach far beyond the simple jump itself. She’s seeing the effects ripple out into her life in ways she really likes.
“It is just such a free feeling,” she insists. “I mean: I have had anxiety for so long, and so I tend to overthink everything. I feel like with skydiving you can’t. You just have to put your trust in the person you are with, and you just have to take the leap. It’s impossible to explain. You have to do it yourself.”
“I overcame something that a lot of people are terrified of,” she continues. “When I tell people about my jump, they insist they’d never be able to do it. And honestly, as someone with anxiety, I never thought I could do it either. I feel like overcoming that gave me the confidence to do so much more. After skydiving, it made everything seem so much clearer. Example: I was in a toxic job, and I quit. How can you worry when you have jumped out of an airplane?”
“Everything else seems so small and less nerve-wracking,” she adds. “You jumped out of a plane, so you can pretty much face anything.”
Now, Rebecca is kinda obsessed. (And we don’t blame her!)
“I went and did it, and I never expected it would be something I would want to do again,” she giggles, “But it is. I knew the first time I did it I had to do it again. I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve already booked my second jump. I know that this is something I have to keep doing.”