Every summer from the time I was 8, my parents would pack my brother and I up in the car and trek 10 hours south to my aunt and uncle’s house in Belle Mead, New Jersey. We’d spend the week swimming in their pool, playing cool video games not allowed at home, and watching Nickelodeon.
But one day each year, we’d go to Six Flags Great Adventure. Six Flags was always the highlight of the trip. Junk food, carnival games, and obviously, the rides.
Rides I enjoyed watching my dad and brother go on with my feet securely planted on solid ground. Sure, I’d go on the little spinny rides or the gentle log ride. But rollercoasters that go upside down? Not. A. Chance.
Then one year, I was probably 15, I decided enough was enough. This was the year I was going to ride Scream Machine – a classic rollercoaster with four loops, two spirals and one giant drop.
Butterflies attacked my stomach as we meandered through the queue lines. When we got to the front and our train pulled up, I realized I had two choices: get on it or bail.
It wasn’t too late to change my mind. I made it further than I ever had before! That’s progress.
But I didn’t bail. I sat in the cart, pulled the shoulder harness down, squeezed the handles as hard as I could and closed my eyes. I didn’t let go or open my eyes for the next minute and thirty-seven seconds.
I hated every single second of that terror-ride. I couldn’t (and still can’t) understand how people considered that fun. In fact, even watching the video above made me queasy all over again.
But I wasn’t disappointed when I walked off the ride. I was elated, even euphoric. I did it! I went on a rollercoaster! I didn’t bail! I opted for the scarier choice and it felt amazing.
That was the first time I remember choosing butterflies. Remember seeing two choices in front of me, and choosing the one that gave me butterflies. And to be honest, I haven’t chosen butterflies too many times since then.
I’m on a journey to choose butterflies. To make the choice that’s a little scarier, a little harder, a little less comfortable. Or a lot. Care to join me?