On Friday, I chaperoned a bunch of 8th graders on a field trip. Middle schools from all over Florida participate in an event called Gradventure, where the 8th graders get to go to Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure here in Orlando and stay until midnight. The parks are closed to outside guests for the duration so the kids pretty much have the place to themselves. It’s a really fun night!
Being a chaperone rocks! Many schools (mine included) turn the kids loose at 7:00 and give them the privilege and responsibility of walking around by themselves, then meeting in the designated area on time. So basically, unless there’s a problem or emergency, we’re on our own for the evening. There are lovely, air-conditioned chaperone lounges with free beverages and snacks, set up in both parks. Many chaperones plant their butts there and don’t move until it’s time to leave. But chaperones also get wristbands that act as fast passes! How could one sit all evening in the lounge when they have a fast pass for all the rides in the park, right?
So, I walked around with my friend Cheri who is a roller coaster fanatic. I like roller coasters, but I’m very selective. I love fast ones, ones that twist and turn, ones that go upside down, ones that are in the dark, ones that have loud music, and ones that have scary themes. But I do NOT like roller coasters with steep drops. At Islands of Adventure, there’s a roller coaster called The Hulk. I’ve never gone on this one because I
usually stay with my little kids in Thneedville while the older ones ride it have this fear I’ll die, or throw up, or die, or pass out, or DIE on it.
Cheri forced me at gunpoint to ride this beast. Okay, so maybe there were no guns involved. I willingly chose to go on this roller coaster so I wouldn’t feel like a big sissy. But in my defense, I can go on the Harry Potter ride (or any other simulator/virtual reality type ride) with no problem and Cheri can’t. Still, the sissy factor won out and I decided to suck it up and ride The Hulk. I mean, heck, I had a fast pass! I couldn’t pass up this opportunity, right?
I may or may not have scream-laughed (that’s where you try to scream, but hysterics take over and you end up laughing like a maniacal serial killer) throughout the ride. But I did it! I stepped out of my comfort zone and I did it! And you know what? It was FUN! It got me thinking of how often we sidestep those things that seem scary; things that we might end up enjoying if we could only muster the courage to give them a try. Or how we sometimes think that something will be a total disaster and it ends up pleasantly surprising us. What would happen if we threw caution to the wind more often and took a chance on something that scares the snot out of us? What might we accomplish if we refuse to let fear rule our decisions?
I was so caught up in this thought that I just knew I’d have to go home and write a blog post about it the next day. However, when ‘the next day’ came, I could barely roll out of bed. My feet hurt. My knees hurt. I was dizzy. My head was pounding and my ears were ringing. My mouth was dry. I was tired! I felt like I had a hangover which is really unfair since I wasn’t even drinking! I think this was the point I decided that taking chances, throwing caution to the wind, and stepping out of one’s comfort zone is for the birds. There’s a reason they have air-conditioned resting places for the chaperones. Because we’re OLD and staying out half the night, riding coaster after coaster will bring us to our knees. I’m pretty sure there’s a booth and a Diet Coke with my name on in waiting for me in the lounge for next year!
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