I remember after having been active in the sport for about five years, and I started to wonder, “I’m feeling so burned out – does anyone else ever feel like this?” Turns out I wasn’t alone. That in itself made me feel validated. But what was next? How do I create longevity in skydiving? I was on the brink of quitting the sport, but something happened over time. Now, after nearly three decades in the sport, I’ve found a path with boundaries that still keeps me going. And now, even though I’m older, I have more energy and passion for the sport than I’ve ever had before.
What’s my secret? I’m about to unveil 4 tips for longevity in this incredible sport of skydiving!
Before you invest thousands of dollars into your training or heck, even if you are in the midst of a skydiving student program at any skydiving center, I invite you to take a moment to think of your ‘why’ on wanting to or getting into this sport.
And I’m not talking about just getting that cool Instagram photo – if that’s why you’re here, I encourage you to find another sport. I’m talking about a deeper meaning of ‘why.’ You’re about to spend a lot of time and money here, so it’s important to be clear. So … seriously, close your eyes and think of YOUR ‘why.’
Ok, you can open your eyes.
It’s rather easy to navigate earning your A-license in the sport – although it can be challenging at times – you have a clear path outlined for you:
It’s easy to get caught up in that ONE goal that nothing else matters. You’re in the zone, you’ve saved up to make this happen, you made compromises of time to focus on this ONE thing. Then you earn your A-license – now what?
I have 23 world records and when I train people to get ready for this ONE BIG goal, watch people through their journey and then earn that world record. Then – I don’t see them anymore. So, I like to plant seeds on what happens after that goal. You’ve invested a lot to earn your license, and maybe even purchasing your own gear. I like to think of making it worth it by knowing your, ‘why’ of getting into something, and looking beyond (which we’ll cover in the next topic).
Some people get into the sport to learn how to wingsuit skydive, some want to do angle flying jumps, some want that world record. Like any sport, it takes time to gain the skills, and ride the waves of ups and downs during your progression. But stay focused on your ‘why’ and maybe along the journey, you’ll discover so much more than what you could have ever dreamed.
Ok, I have a confession. I haven’t told anyone this before, but I love Madonna! There I said it. I don’t love her because of her edgy songs, but Madonna had figured something out about longevity in the music industry – and industry where many are one-hit wonders and to never be seen or heard from again – Madonna continued to evolve and kept her audiences entertained and eager for her next big hit. Sure, some albums weren’t as successful as others, but the point is, she kept at it.
It’s easy to get comfortable with doing just one discipline in skydiving. Instead of limiting yourself to just one thing, challenge yourself to be versatile. I’m not talking about changing your looks or styles like Madonna (although that’s cool too) – I’m talking about evolving within your favorite discipline such as getting coaching, go to camps, try big ways, or even going to an event. And heck, why not try a new discipline?
Continuing to learn not only provides a platform to evolve, but you may discover something else you enjoy, but ultimately, it promotes a culture of safety – which is the staple of longevity in skydiving!
Opportunities in the Sport to Evolve
Before I knew it, I had become a full-time skydiver. It consumed my life – it was my play, lifestyle, and career. Even just saying this it seems so obvious, but yeah! I spent all my time skydiving and nothing else and I burned out fast.
I love to travel, hike, hang out with friends, yoga, and snowboarding. Those are the things that I love while I’m not skydiving, but I never satisfied those other parts of my life while full-time skydiving. If I traveled for work in skydiving, yeah that was cool, but I never stayed long enough to explore the cities, mountainsides, or regional cuisines that I craved. I just went skydiving and left – which is cool, but I was also missing out.
It took a bit of time, but I realized that I needed to carve time out of my schedule to do things that satiated my soul. And now I’m a wife and a mom. I’m so glad I learned to find my balance because it’s so easy to choose to spend time with my son than doing anything else. (And now I’m lucky because my kiddo loves to hike and ski with me now that he’s older!)
I was on a freefly team called, Sugar Gliderz (an all women’s freefly skydiving team) from 2002-2005, and there were times I would get frustrated not only because I didn’t have balance in my life, but dealing with other teammates who had different goals and passions and trying to make the teamwork. I’ve also worked in the sport and not only are there long summer days but dealing with work-life scenarios – yes, just like any other job – was frustrating.
In looking back on my career in the sport, the things that kept me going was the incredible community of people, the awesome events, and the places that the sport had taken me. It was the fun of skydiving and this stands as one aspect of my ‘why’ – the people and the fun!
If you’re in the funk and not sure next steps in the sport, be sure to reach out to one of your instructors. We all want you to enjoy and love skydiving the way we do. If you know you’re ‘why’, then I encourage you to stick with it – sometimes, it just takes time.
Thank you to Skydive Orange for inviting me to share my experience with you! I hope to see you all in the skies and maybe even share a jump! You can learn more about me here: https://melissa-lowe.com/
The largest tandem skydiving center near Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.