As the elevator rose, inch my inch above Paris, it was all I could do to stop myself crying. Petrified of heights, shaking and alone, crammed into a glass elevator with no back-up plan, I couldn’t help but think, what the hell had I just done?
It took me two trips to Paris, and 3 different climbs before I ever made it to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I talked myself into it, then I talked myself out of it. I almost convinced myself it wasn’t necessary, it’s just a tower, you’ve seen it from the ground, your deal is done. But I’m not that girl – I can’t walk away from a challenge. I refuse to be defeated, I refuse to walk away, and I refuse to let fear stop me living the life I imagined.
Here’s the funny thing about the Eiffel Tower – it’s the absolute heart and soul of Paris. It represents freedom, expression, joy, art, but above all things, it represents love. It represents love for every 16 year old girl with a poster of it on her bedroom wall, for ever girl who dreamed of getting proposed to at the top of it, and for every girl that did. It’s everything; and here I was, standing on top of it.
But was it that easy? As I crammed into the lift, I was shaking, but I couldn’t turn back: I had to do this, for the 16 year old me that had this tower on her bedroom wall, and for 22 year old me now, who knows if I walked away from this I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself. As the lift rose, so did my heart beat.
To keep myself calm, I kept my eyes firmly on the lift operator sitting next to me. Of all things, she was on her phone, scrolling through Facebook. Isn’t that funny? Here I was, doing something I’ve wanted to do all my life, but at the same time, having to use every inch of my strength to fight the fear that was threatening to take over my senses, and for this girl climbing the tower was an act too mundane to even pay attention to. Funny how life works, hey.
As the lift drew to a halt, I stepped out onto the top level of the Eiffel Tower, which I was surprised to find was indoors. And the funny thing about that was, the exact thing I was petrified about this whole time was of stepping out the lift and being immediately faced with some crazy outdoor viewing platform… but it wasn’t that at all.
I stepped out into an indoor 360 degree viewing platform, completely protected by the wind and the fear of falling. I stepped out of the lift to realise I was petrified of something that didn’t exist! Sure, if you head upstairs they have an outdoor 360 degree viewing platform, but it’s an option of going to the top, not a necessity.
The older I get and the more I travel, the more I’m faced with stressful situations, and through the hardship of it all I’m learning that life isn’t that scary… that facing your fears, doing something that makes your knees shake, that’s okay! That’s more then okay, actually. That’s living.
Everything you want is on the other side of fear. Isn’t that how the saying goes? From what I’ve lived and learnt so far, I do believe that’s true. But I also believe that sometimes, there’s nothing on the other side of fear. Because the biggest thing I was scared of when climbing the tower was because having to step out of that platform and to an outside viewing platform, didn’t even exist.
When I stepped off the lift, there was nothing to be afraid of up there: I was safe. I sat on a bench and ate my lunch. I walked around the deck and had a look at Paris from above. And when it came time to go upstairs and check out the outdoor viewing platform, that was fine too. There was no clutching of handrails, no shaking knees… I was truly fine.
I had learnt, in one quick sweep, that fear is false. Fear is a representation of things that don’t exist – here I was, scared to my wits end, over a situation that, inevitably, didn’t exist.
The Eiffel Tower is love, hope, joy, art, expression. It is all of these things, but perhaps what’s more is, it’s courage, it’s a symbol of all of those people who, like me, were paralysed by their fear of heights. But its also a symbol of hope for all of those people, like me, who were able to overcome their fears and live, from that day forth, as a new version of themselves.
A version who is uninhabited, a version who has unbridled enthusiasm for every day they face, a version that refuses, refuses, to let fear stand in their way and stop them from doing the absolute one thing they so desire – to live.
The Eiffel Tower taught me that my own two feet are enough; they were enough to walk me up the 669 steps to the second level, and they were enough to walk me into that elevator and get me to the top. They were enough for every day I’ve dragged my suitcase across cobblestone roads, in search of my accommodation. They were enough for every day I have dragged my suitcase up metro steps, they were enough for every day I was too beaten to drag them out of bed, but did anyway.
My own two feet, are always enough. And from here-on-in, for any day in may future that I may doubt it, that I may doubt my own worth, may I look on down at the Eiffel Tower keychain hanging off my suitcase and remember that I am enough, and that for any obstacle that may stand in my way, I am enough to overcome that too.
You guys gotta tell me – what have you ever done that has reassured you that you were enough? Let me know in the comments below!!