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I wish I was a new AFF student again. For reals.

Since graduating AFF and completing my A license I am feeling a little lost.

When I go out to the drop zone, I no longer have an agenda. There is no clear plan.

The instructions upon completion of your A license are essentially this: Learn. Be safe. Don’t do anything too stupid. Have fun. Bring more beer.

I feel conflicted. I know that I have many things to work on (my track, my relative work, my body control, my canopy piloting) to be competent as a beginner. But where to start? How to best make progress? Where’s my “stop being a newbie pansy-ass idiot” checklist?

My newbie friend and I hatch plans to go up and do two ways and three ways and then we are thrilled when fundamental skills like a good exit come off and encourage each other about all the stuff we are “still working on” (i.e. SUCK at). But while we learn little bits, we don’t really push each other the way a more experienced jumper would be able to  push us and teach us. We think everything we do is awesome, because we are dopey and don’t know any better.

I also have some more advanced friends asking me to jump, which is very enticing, but sometimes I worry I am going too far too fast when I try to “play” with them and do a sitfly or a head down when I still can’t consistently do fundamental skills like dock and fly relative. When I’m up with them I feel embarrassed. They are nice about it, but how long will that last?

And then there are the days when there is no one to jump with. All my friends are either occupied with working jumps (flying camera, tandems, AFF instructing etc) or doing cool things I cannot even try to do (freefly groups and big-ways). I look around the drop zone and think: “Hmm. Bummer. Nobody to jump with. Maybe I’ll go work on my packing skills. Whimper. At least I’m saving money…” (I am pathetic sometimes.)

I’m stuck in the newbie zone: I know enough to realize how much I suck, yet I feel like the path to feeling “skilled” seems not only long, but hard to find.

I never know what to work on next or how to make that skill come. I know tunnel time would help – tunnel time would allow me to create some muscle memory with immediate feedback so I can better understand how what I THINK I am telling my body to do and what it actually does are not remotely the same (as they so often appear to not be). But tunnel time is waaay costly, and I’m already stuck in the vortex of saving for my rig while trying to jump regularly and pay for rental gear. It’s a viscous circle with no apparent end.

So, now I’m just whining. Which is just stupid because my biggest problem is that I love to skydive and have a ridiculously awesome new passion and am being stimulated by a new challenge and seduced by adrenalin and how can I even begin to complain when life is this good? Right?

So, enough already. Less whining, more jumping. See ya up in the clouds.

3 thoughts on “Lost

  1. Hey Miss Mary- you’re coming up in the sport just like the rest of us. You have the love and desire and that’s all that matters at the end of the day. If anyones patience runs out with you then Fu€k them…they’ve just forgotten what it’s like to be new and you don’t want to learn from those few folks anyway. I’ll always jump with you!!! Speaking of Ive missed you at The Farm… Hope to see you soon!!

  2. Mary! I’m feeling the same way!!!

    I’ve only made 2 jumps since getting my A license, but I understand how you feel.
    I always have the fundamental belief that any skydive that end with the radio communication “All skydivers on the ground and clear” is a good one, but as a student we all had certain guidelines that allow us to judge whether or not a skydive went well.
    Now as we’re off of student status, there is really no way to judge if you’re ready for the “next step”. To be honest, there’s no way to know what that “next step” really is!

    I have the pleasure at jumping at a particularly small DZ (We own 2 cessna 206’s, and one is in the shop right now) so I’ve never gone up on a load without having an instructor go with me. But here is some advice that I have heard from one of the more seasoned jumpers at our DZ –

    “Jump with the best people you can, as much as you can. The best skydivers in the world have no problem jumping with newbies.”

    Have fun, be crazy, and blue skies

  3. Lady – don’t be too hard on yourself. When I was a student and couldn’t wait to get my license, I was told time and time again, “the REAL work begins once you get your license,” and it’s the truth. I was lucky enough to have people take me under my wing and teach me how to freefly pretty much right off the bat.

    I’m a big believer in keeping things small – even at more than 200 skydives, big scares me. I also believe that no matter what you do in the sky, belly work, tracking, freeflying, freestyle, wingsuiting, or even just plain flailing around, you’re learning on each and every jump how to manipulate the air to do exactly what you want it to do.

    So no matter what kind of jump you end up on, stay safe and keep close logs of what went on…that’s the fastest way to improvement. Oh yeah, and jump with as many different people as possible. You’ll be able to learn more that way. BLUE ONES!!!

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