Lauren Z's Moment
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Lauren Zuber admits that she’s always been a bit more audacious than others. At a young age, she was highly competitive and eventually became a varsity athlete on two different teams. In college, she caused a stir on campus when she founded her own magazine that encouraged students to voice their opinions through writing about current events and social issues. Her senior year, she left her friends behind to travel to London for a semester so she could study the music business and intern at a recording studio. By the age of 25, she had over 10 tattoos – half of which she got during her world travels.
It’s safe to say that Lauren lives her life by facing her fears head-on – which is why she was ecstatic to have the opportunity to skydive with her closest friends. However, in the weeks leading up to the skydiving adventure, Lauren’s friends were having second thoughts about jumping out of a plane.
“I didn’t understand why they were so worried – I was just crazy excited! I even picked on them for being so nervous,” Lauren remembers.
Flash forward to the day of their trip, Lauren remained the only person who was calm about the jump. “As I was reviewing the waiver that essentially would sign my life away, I was laughing and making jokes. I was consoling my friends because they were having anxiety about getting on the plane – I just didn’t get it.”
When the time finally came, Lauren happily stepped onto the plane with her cousin Kira, their skydiving instructors, and their videographers who would be there to capture every moment of their plunge back to earth. They spent the first few minutes of their ascent by writing “Free Falling” on the palms of their hands in sharpie marker to pay tribute to their favorite Tom Petty song. They chatted with their instructors and stared out the window watching their friends get smaller and smaller until they faded into nothing.
“I think I started to freak out around the time we reached the altitude of 8,000 feet. I remember looking down at my palms and the words I had just written were smeared and illegible because I was sweating so much!” Lauren says.
Once they reached 15,000 feet, it was time for them to make their jumps. “At this point, my entire personality had gone out the window – I totally let the fear overcome me. I began to interrogate my instructor by asking him how many times he had done this before – his answer of over 5,000 jumps didn’t seem like enough to me. I truly was considering not doing it,” Lauren says with trepidation.
Then, to make matters worse, her instructors let Kira, her cousin and life-long best friend, jump first. “Watching her jump out of the plane is still to this day one of the most traumatic moments of my life. I always do everything I can to protect the ones I love and knowing that there was nothing I could do to help her if something went wrong really messed me up,” Lauren recalls.
Nonetheless, her instructor informed her that it was “too late to turn back now” and whether Lauren liked it or not, she was going to make the jump. Lauren smiles and remembers, “They told me they would tip the plane to push me out if they had to!”
In the seconds before jumping, Lauren remembers reassuring herself to embrace the fear and push past it. She recalls, “As I was free falling, I knew there was nothing I could do to stop it, so I spread my arms out wide and tried my best to stay in the moment.”
She felt an immediate sense of relief when the parachute burst open as they began to descend back to sea-level.
“I should have felt at peace but I couldn’t enjoy the feeling of flying because all I wanted to do was be back on solid ground! I had experienced too many emotions within a short period of time: elation, regret, worry, panic, relief…I was so overwhelmed!” Lauren says with a laugh.
As she made her way down, she saw Kira waiting for her and knew that it was coming to an end and that everyone had survived the experience. “It was hilarious because all my other friends had amazing experiences - I was the only one who let the fear get to my head,” Lauren recalls.
When asked if she would do it again, Lauren immediately responded, “no!” but added, “I’m so happy I did it though – I have no regrets. That experience empowered me to keep challenging myself to do things I think I don’t have the guts to do. It also taught me that as well as we think we know ourselves, we never truly know how we’re going to react to a situation until we’re in the moment living through it.”
Check out Lauren’s Skydiving video and the rest of our Moments from the Valley content by visiting www.florencebank.com/moments
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