I hate being afraid of heights.
It ridiculously embarrassing because usually, my fear strikes out of nowhere. We’ll be out and about, walking along, when suddenly BOOM my brain decides that the road ahead is a danger and I just stop.
That’s right I stop, or, as in one really embarrassing recent case, I sit down. It doesn’t matter how many people, children, dogs or badgers are walking along the exact. same. path. ahead of me, my brain just won’t let me carry on and my feet stay firmly planted on the ground.
It’s embarrassing and, honestly, really disappointing.
In the past few years, my fear of heights has forced me to miss out on a few pretty great experiences and views, including recently, when my fear demon denied me the chance to climb Arthur’s Seat and take in the panoramic views of the stunning, gothic city of Edinburgh.
Let me tell you all about it.
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
When we were preparing for our trip to Edinburgh, Scotland in early-February, both Dave and I read about Arthur’s Seat and decided it would be something that we’d really like to do.
As per Wikipedia: [Arthur’s Seat] rises above the city to a height of 250.5 m (822 ft), provides excellent panoramic views of the city and beyond, is relatively easy to climb, and is popular for hillwalking (source). Sounds pretty great, right?!
I knew it would be a climb, but based on everything that I’d read, it didn’t seem like it would be too terrifying for me. The only warning I came across was that it was best to avoid it when it was windy, but I didn’t plan for the wind, so onto the list it went, and off I went with my planning.
We woke up on our first morning in Edinburgh to cloudy skies and intermittent rainfall: it was early February, so really, we shouldn’t have expected anything different. After a decent and filling breakfast at the hotel, we made our way out of the city, navigating the streets and dodging raindrops as we walked.
As if out of nowhere, there he was: Arthur’s Seat. I looked up at the giant and couldn’t help but think how everything I’d read had underestimated the scale of the mountain. I stared up at the little specks walking along the edge and tried to convince myself I could do it, but there it was, that growing feeling in my stomach: I was already uncomfortable and we were on flat land.
We continued to walk toward the mountain, and I kept trying to convince myself that it would all be okay: It’s just a giant hill, not a cliff, you’ll be fine. If you slip or fall, you can simply roll down. I repeated this over and over to myself as we walked ever closer to the climb.
And that’s when I realised, I’d been looking at the wrong hill. Arthur’s Seat was the even bigger, scarier hill to the right of what I’d been looking at.
And then the wind hit me.
As we crossed the street to the base of the hill, the winds picked up and were blowing me ever closer to the rock demon. The warning I’d read on TripAdvisor repeated itself over and over in my head. I was already being blown around enough on the ground, any feet off the air and I’d stand the same chance as a leaf at the end of autumn.
I looked up at the tiny human specks walking along what looked like an unguarded rock face, and I felt my stomach drop: I just couldn’t do it.
There I stood, my red Hunter boots stuck in the mud, as I pleaded my case to Dave. It was beyond mortifying. Being the ever-wonderful human that he is, he eventually understood where I was coming from and we made a deal to climb the less-scary hill beside it — you know, the one I could roll down if need be.
We walked in silence up the hill; Dave was busy taking in the views of the city below and me, well, I was hoping the longer I was quiet, the faster we would both forget how lame I was. I was so embarrassed that I hadn’t been able to make the trek, one that so many other people had, that I wasn’t able to enjoy the hill we were actually climbing. It wasn’t my finest hour, but the longer we walked, the more the knot in my stomach loosened. It was the right decision for that day, but still, one I wasn’t proud I had to make.
Being afraid of heights is incredibly embarrassing. It’s caused me to miss out on a few pretty amazing views and activities, including climbing Arthur’s Seat. It’s honestly the one thing I would change about myself if I could.
And I have, or at least, I’ve started to.
I’ve recently started taking small steps toward making that fear a distant memory (or at least a little less present) in hopes that next time we visit Edinburgh I can climb Arthur’s Seat and enjoy all that I missed on that last visit.
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