Fear is a universal human experience. And together with our emotions, anxieties, memories it can really get hold of us. In Eva’s world, her fears really took hold after the death of her mother. Follow her as she explores the adventure of the Yukon and faces her fears on a journey that takes her from Whitehorse to Amsterdam.
Introducing Eva Holland, the author of Nerve. Listen to her explain how the Yukon landscape and community influenced the story she tells in the book.
A Quick Flight and a Short Drop
In one of her first attempts at conquering her fear, Eva travelled to Carcross, home to what’s affectionately known as the “world’s smallest desert,” to go skydiving. And while she was proud of her accomplishment, it’s safe to say she hadn’t discovered a new hobby.
“Kelsey and Barry both urged me to keep an eye on the Cessna as I somersaulted out of it. Watching the plane appear to fall away from you when you were the one plummeting was, they assured me, one of the coolest parts of the jump. But I had no desire to watch the earth and the sky spin around me.”
Once she was safely back on terra forma, she realized that in order to face her fears, she’d have to face them all. One by one.
After her skydiving experience, one of the ways she tried to conquer her fears was exposure therapy. Which, in the early days, simply amounted to going out and doing things like rock climbing and inducing a white hot panic.
Government of Yukon/ F Mueller
“Climbing on the top rope, as it’s known, involves very little real risk. But my lungs constricted anyway, and I fought to squelch my dizziness and panic. From the ground, my friends encouraged me: “Trust your shoes!” “Trust your feet!” “This will be fine!” “You can do this!”
From these experiences, she realized that it wasn’t enough to just grit her teeth and get through one horrible, frightening experience after another for the rest of her life. She had to change the way her brain perceived the experiences. This way, she could hike, look out over a balcony or climb an escalator without feeling that panic rise within her. She had to remain calm.
But even while trying to remain calm throughout her various adventures, Eva was only experiencing mixed results. In fact, she would still experience severe bouts of fear. The last straw occurred when she accepted a ride home from a friend and the short drive left her crying and trembling in the passenger seat.
Luckily, she was turned on to some more clinical methods of fear management by some helpful Yukoners. And that’s when her journey to conquer her fears really took off.
Fear and the human brain are powerful tools. As Eva has shown, sometimes they work for you, sometimes they work against you. Here are a few questions to spark some interesting discussions.
What are you most afraid of?
Is your fear mostly helpful or mostly harmful?
We know some fears can be useful, but are there any you find enjoyable, like a good horror movie or adrenaline rush? Explain.
Could you face your fear directly like Eva did during her skydiving experience?
If you travelled to the Yukon, what fears would you be willing to face?
In her final test for herself, Eva did a zip line course in the Grand Canyon. What would be your test to prove you’d conquered your fear?