A Personal Narrative


This is a personal narrative about a time I overcame a fear to jump off a cliff. For Humanities class, we had to tell a personal story in less than 600 words to submit to a New York Times competition. The moment I wrote about was a small moment and very insignificant to everyone else, but in that moment I was able to overcome my previous fear of heights and jump from the cliff. Doing that felt as though it changed something that had always been true about me; this is why it’s so significant to me.



Now or Never

Down below me, a rushing waterfall came into view. Across from me, two boys jumped off a rock doing flips. No one was jumping from anywhere high though, which the adults had promised you could do. 

As I scanned for a spot to jump from, a memory popped into the back of my mind. In this memory, my cousin and I are at a beach surrounded by cliffs. All around us people are jumping from incredible heights. In my head, it seems fun, but once I get to the edge of the cliff, an instinct kicks in and I’m terrified. I can’t jump, not even from the small ledges less than 10 ft from the water. 

Now as I looked for a spot to jump, I felt as though I had to prove to myself that I could do it. It was now or never.

My friends all gathered on a rock behind me, soaking in the sun. “Ok I’m going to jump,” I exclaimed, grabbing all of their attention. I turned toward the rock wall and begun to climb with no plan for what I would do when I got to the top. 

When I reached the top, I sat for a long time solidifying my feet’s grip on the mossy rock. “Jump, jump, jump,” pressured my friend Stella. Carefully I stood all the way up to look down at the dark, glassy water. Just below the waters’ surface, I could make out a ledge of rock jutting out and blocking a clear path straight down. I would have to really jump if I wanted to make it. 

“Don’t do it, you’re going to die!” my sister pleaded with me. When I was silent she took a different approach to try and convince me: “I’m not going to be the one to take you to the hospital when you DIE!”

Suddenly it felt like everyone there was staring at me, waiting. As I looked down at the ledge, a scenario played out in my mind where I landed on it; I could almost feel the pain as my bones shattered beneath the impact.

Still determined, my muscles tensed in anticipation and my mind jumped towards the water, but my body refused to follow. Over and over I was so convinced I was going to jump; I saw myself falling towards the water before being shocked with the sensation of still being in the same spot. 

Realizing it may take a while, I saw my friends stop focusing on me. Suddenly full of courage from being out of the spotlight, I took a flying leap. This time I brought my body with me. But fear still grasped ahold of my body willing it to stay on the safety of the cliff. Too late. I plummeted towards the water with no idea where the ledge ended or if I would clear it. 

The first thing I felt as I hit the water was the cold overwhelm my senses; I hardly even felt it as my foot slammed into the rock ledge. Now submerged completely by the water, I rested and allowed the cold to calm my nerves, knowing full well everyone above thought I had just broken my entire body. 

Finally emerging from the water I popped out with a satisfied smile and stood up perfectly fine. There was a mild thumping in my foot, but an overwhelming sense of satisfaction replaced it. Of course the next day I was hardly able to walk, but the pain just reminded me of my feat.