When I was 19, I was saving up money to move from Austin to New York City, working about 80 hours a week as a nanny, waitress, and paintball referee. One night I fell asleep at the wheel and totaled my car. I was all right, but I realized I had to reflect on where my life was headed. So I quit some of my jobs and started going to the park to swim and read and think. And one day I saw a couple of guys slacklining—walking on a rope loosely stretched between two trees. I asked to try it and was hooked.

Once I felt comfortable, I started experimenting with highlining, which is similar, only much farther off the ground. I spent the first two days just standing and falling in my harness—my legs were black-and-blue. But I’ve since walked lines as high as 3,000 feet, occasionally in heels; I've balanced above Utah, the French Alps, Tasmania—I've even highlined in a Volvo commercial. When I’m up there, I’m competing against my own mind.

There's technique involved, of course. But highlining is really about dealing with primal fear. People think I've conquered mine, but it’s more that I’ve learned to accept that feeling and keep going. There's something freeing about realizing, I'm afraid, but it doesn't have to stop me. I can still take steps, even if they’re shaky.

We all experience fear in different ways—I just choose to confront mine on a thin rope among the clouds.

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