The best hug I’ve ever had

The session was called “Trust Fall”, which was a fitting name considering I found myself standing at the edge of stacked tables, hands tied together, with the instructions to fall like a log onto a row of my peers’ arms.  Trust was a tall order I wasn’t sure I could deliver.

Ayesha’s facial expression matched my sentiments to the tee! “You want me to fall off of what now?”

I have to hand it to them; Pravah has a way to nudge shove you out of your comfort zone and create the space for some serious(ly fun) experiences.  I naively thought I could sneak out of doing the Trust Fall, because I was playing role of participant and Pravah team member during the two day “Get Real” workshop, so people assumed I had done this session before.  But as the number of those who had completed their trust fall increased, my confidence that I could get out of my turn decreased.

Group photo of all the Get Real workshop participants

After assertively volunteering everyone I could to go before me, I had nowhere to go but to begin my own climb up the stacked structure.  Surprisingly, I was not the shaky-I’m-going-to-pee-my-pants nervous.  Instead my nerves decided to manifest themselves into a fearful calm, similar to when I have to rip off a band-aid.  I know I’m going to have to bite the bullet and do it, but it doesn’t stop me from dreading the inevitable. So as the mountaineering man, turned facilitator was wrapping my wrists together (this is a safety precaution, so your arms don’t flail and hurt someone on the receiving/catching side, but seemed eerily more like an initial step one undergoes before facing the electric chair) I knew I was going to do it- I was going to fall backwards with a leap of faith and a spoonful of trust.

No, Robin is not being arrested! Sundeep ties Robin’s wrists together for safety precautions before his trust fall.

I can hardly do justice trying to describe the feelings that flowed through me as I finally did let go and trust the fall.  The feelings came in stages.  First there’s the most nerve-wracking moment when you have to lean back until the point where you are going to fall and you have no control over the result.  Then there is that brief moment when you are letting gravity do its thing, nothing is holding you and freedom becomes an action feeling.  Finally, there is the volcano eruption of relief as 15 pairs of arms catch you in the best hug I’ve ever had.  Sure, it wasn’t the conventional arms wrapped around you kind of hug, but I have never felt so supported than I did in that moment of being caught after my trust fall.

Robin ready to take the backwards plunge! The camera ran out of battery before my turn, hence all the photos of Robin’s turn 🙂

As I teeter tottered between wanting to cry from happiness that I actually took the very real plunge into fear and came out alive, and wanting to do it all over again (instant adrenaline addiction perhaps?), I finally settled with an audible ‘thank you, thank you’ to everyone who just caught me.

The list is growing each and every day here of things I never imagined I would do– fall backwards from stacked tables, participate in national TV show recordings, march with 40,000 Indians for land reforms, the list could go on and on.  That’s my favorite part about traveling out of one’s comfort zone.  You never know what you’re in for, but you know the process and challenges you’ll face will be  life-changing.   Time is flying as I am almost halfway through the fellowship and I look forward to more surprises and challenges to come!

Allison's interest in social justice beyond borders began while working in Uganda with the Youth Focus Africa Foundation, a local NGO focused on serving educational, health and social justice initiatives to the women and children in local villages. This experience motivated her to continue her exploration of other cultures through a study-abroad program at the University of Hyderabad in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Her time in India had a big impact on her views pertaining to culture-specific methods of conflict transformation, which inspired her honors thesis, "Applying Conflict Resolution to the Telangana Struggle." Allison continued exploring her passion for working with under-served youth by holding a leadership role through the Upward Bound program in Boone, NC, where she helped prepare aspiring first-generation college students for higher education. Prior to joining AIF, Allison facilitated character development classes aimed at giving juveniles an alternative to the court system through a local organization in her hometown, Memphis, TN.

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8 thoughts on “The best hug I’ve ever had

  1. Most difficult thing to do unequivocally. Trust. But when you do and it is validated that’s indeed the best hug. Life experiences teach us when to Trust Fall and not Trust Fail.

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