Facing Fears & Soiling Drawers

fear [feer]

a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid

This past week, we (Elizabeth and I, our boyfriend’s, my brother & sister-in-law and a few more friends) went to the Outer Banks for a weeklong vacation. We’ve rented the same house once before and always consider it one of the best weeks of the year. The dogs are able to come with us and we spend most of our time, beers-in-hand, by the pool & at the beach. We eat enormous, fresh-caught crabs almost daily and basically just have a blast. While usually it’s quite relaxing, James and I decided to do something not-so-relaxing one day while everyone else went on a super chill, waterfront bike ride…

We had passed this monstrosity several times during the week and kept saying “WHATEVER THAT IS, WE HAVE TO DO IT.”


First Flight Adventure Park – Nags Head, NC




The monstrosity was called First Flight Adventure Park in Nags Head, North Carolina. It’s basically a giant, 4-story obstacle course that is fear (and poop) inducing. It’s 5 different levels/courses – each level more difficult than the previous. You start at “category 1” and work your way up the enormous structure to the top level containing category 4 & 5. It’s pretty much terrifying from start to finish, though. Amazingly, awesomely terrifying, of course.

As I learned from the trusty Dr. Phil McGraw, fear boils down to one specific phobia: the fear of losing control or being out of control. My hands sweat at the thought of anything slightly scary or anxiety-inducing and anyone who knows me knows I THRIVE when I’m in control (haha), so, you can bet I was sweating up a storm once we arrived. I like to tell myself that was my body trying to tell me “ABORT! ABORT! get the F out… NOW!”

While fear is a completely natural response to scary situations, we’re still wired to remain fearful in situations where, logically, we know we’re safe. Yet, we still let the fear overcome us. What sense does that make?!

One of the main ways we let fear overcome us is by avoiding whatever it is that we fear. The more we avoid those fearful situations, the more fearful we become, until you have a never-ending cycle of fear-driven thoughts. She’s a vicious one, I know. We develop all sorts of coping mechanisms to deal with fear, though. Sort of like our own personal stress management styles. While some use avoidance to deal with fear or stress, some use humor, some react mildly, some panic, and some people even become physically ill in the face of fear or immense stress. What kind of person are you?

I definitely would NOT consider myself a reacts-mildly-to-immense-stress kinda person. But, hey, now… don’t feel bad. The way we deal with fear comes from a whole shizload of places – a combination of your childhood experiences, heredity, and your daily stressors. Either way, no matter how you deal, NO ONE IS FEARLESS! Not Bear Grylls! Not Dr. Phil! And definitely not me!

I must’ve had this (extremely flattering) panic-stricken look on my face the entire time, as James kept asking me “are you sure you’re okay?” You can be the judge of that… I mean, really, DO I LOOK OKAY?!?



Here’s a few pics of some of the obstacles:


I swear it’s harder than it looks…


This one was like a broken Indiana Jones wooden bridge… except you had to Tarzan-swing on the ropes to get over the huge gaps. EEK!



Not sure if you can tell, but, pretty much every surface you had to walk across was UNSTABLE AS SHIT. The one comfort I had was knowing if I did indeed plunge to my death, there was a zipline to catch me. You’re still screwed and kinda stuck mid-course, but, hey, at least you won’t die! Luckily, we didn’t have to rely on the zipline for safety reasons – only for fun reasons when we would zipline across from platform to platform.



While in “category 5”, the most difficult course, we encountered the commando crawl. This was seriously terrifying. You can see the despair and dread in our (my) eyes once we discovered how we were supposed to get across on a SINGLE ROPE. HOW DOES ONE DO THIS. Luckily, we watch Running Wild with Bear Grylls and recently saw him & Zac Efron do a commando crawl… on a single rope… over a canyon… sans safety zipline. IF ZAC EFRON CAN DO IT, SO CAN WE.



The last obstacle: I titled this photo “death rings” for good reason. I did not get any further than the third ring that you see me hanging on before I fell. There’s really nothing else to say here except I have no upper body strength. (I’ve since vowed to work my way up to 30 pushups… within 2 months. Not sure if that’s an easy, reasonable, or lazy-man’s goal. Let me know if you have the answer to this.)


sadness written across my face


As if slipping off the monkey bars 4 stories over marshy swampland wasn’t scary enough, to end the experience at First Flight Adventure Park, you have the option to free-fall-jump back down to the ground or simply walk down the stairs. The jump is basically just jumping off the roof of a 4-story building and free falling to your death. OF COURSE I DID IT. Jamesthelittlebabyboy didn’t. I still love him. ;)

I’ve slowly come to realize after a lifetime of awkward-shyness and terror-inducing situations, that there is no life without fear. And if you can just suck it up for that 10… 20… 30 seconds (or 2+ hours in this case) and just make the leap, literally or metaphorically, you’ll walk away feeling better than you’ve ever felt. Accomplished & proud – and guess what? You made that choice! You decided to take that leap. Whether it’s literally a leap off a four-story building or a leap into a new, scary, life adventure… just remember, you can do it. :)

While I’m here for the night, emceeing as the world’s best motivational speaker, I might as well post a few more pics of our awesome vacation! I mean, this is our blog right?! ;)


Elizabeth & I at the sand dunes!

Doggies at the sand dunes!

Doggies at the sand dunes!

2 out of 3 dogs basically-dead after the sand dunes!

2 out of 3 dogs basically-dead after the sand dunes!

My lilbabybeachpeanutbutt!

My lilbabybeachpeanutbutt!

Failed family photo sesh!

Failed family photo sesh!


Oh, and, here’s my sister-in-law and her biffle getting washed away by a wave… While I photograph their misfortune instead of warn them of their impending doom. :)


Oh, vacation, how I love you, so.

P.S. I’ve already looked into skydiving & bungee jumping schools in our area. That’s paleo, right? NOW, WHO WANTS TO SKYDIVE DC WITH ME?!



  • Kendra

    17.09.2014 at 21:39 Reply

    Your face in all those pictures: priceless but so adorable! I want to do that course, it looks like so much fun (does that make me crazy?)

    Oh, and you totally look like you’re workin’ it in that pic where you’re hanging on to the 2 ropes and stepping on the wobbly discs. Bom chicka!

    • Nicole

      18.09.2014 at 09:04 Reply

      Thanks girlfran! no, you’re not crazy. It was terrifying but oh so fun. Definitely worth the poop-in-pants. Can we go obstacle-coursing-bungee-jumping-skydiving together?!? Considering he’s scared of the dang ocean, James definitely won’t do those with me. ;) I almost considered these photos “NSFHE” (not safe for human eyes). They’re not too flattering, but, I’m so damn proud of myself, I couldn’t NOT post them!

      • Kendra

        30.09.2014 at 11:31 Reply

        I might pass on the skydiving but I’m game for all the rest ;)

  • Kasey (Elizabeth's sister)

    17.09.2014 at 11:55 Reply

    I know that park! When my husband and I were at Nagshead earlier this year with friends, we all watched daring folks like you, while eating shrimp and sipping cocktails from the restaurant deck next door. Maybe we’ll try it next year :)

    • Elizabeth

      18.09.2014 at 07:31 Reply

      Hi Kasey! I know that restaurant next door! Ryan and I totally sipped cocktails on that restaurant deck and watched while our group kayaked and rode jet skis at the watersports place down the road (I wanted to order the shrimp).

      We are sisters. Peas in a pod! <3

      • Kasey (Elizabeth's sister)

        18.09.2014 at 11:26 Reply


    • Nicole

      18.09.2014 at 09:10 Reply

      YES! Talk about a real confidence builder/booster. If you’ve ever been afraid of anything in your life, do that course and I swear you’ll feel differently! You leave feeling accomplished and awesome and kinda like superman. Definitely going back next year when they have new obstacles. I expect to see you there! ;)

      • Kasey (Elizabeth's sister)

        18.09.2014 at 11:27 Reply

        Forgot to add that I cringed a and felt butterflies in stomach when I watched a woman slipping a couple of times. She made it through though!

    • Loren

      06.01.2017 at 11:33 Reply

      Felt so hopeless looking for answers to my quu..ionsst.entil now.

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