Fear helps drive our lives. It helps us navigate the world by choosing what we will do and what we won’t do. The most common fears in the world are probably familiar to us all: acrophobia, fear of heights, pteromerhanophobia, fear of flying and claustrophobia, fear of enclosed spaces. 

But for Cadets of 2nd Regiment Basic Camp, some have fears that aren’t common at all.

“Most people have a fear of heights,” Cadet Michael Cavil, from the University of South Florida, said. “Personally, my biggest fear is loud sounds. So for me my overcoming was range day.” 

3rd Regiment Cadets maneuver Rudder’s Rope Course at the High Ropes Course at Basic Camp in Fort Knox, Kentucky July 21, 2021. | Photo by Marissa Wells, CST Public Affairs Office.

Although there weren’t very many loud sounds at the Confidence Course, Cavil still had to overcome. The briefing Cadets get when they arrive at the course teaches them about trusting their equipment. This can be difficult, especially when some of the obstacles are 50 feet in the air. 

Cavil was able to trust his equipment by repeating to himself that, “It’s just a thought process. It’s just a mindset to have.”

Cadet Andrew Davis, from Purdue University, isn’t afraid of heights, but he was still a little nervous maneuvering some of the obstacles. 

“I was like super motivated,” Davis said. I’m like, ‘I’m not scared of heights or anything.’ I got up to the top of the rock wall and was like, ‘That’s a far drop.”

Fortunately enough one of Davis’ fears helped him overcome his initial jitters at the Confidence Course. 

3rd Regiment Cadet zip lines at Rudder’s Rope Course at the High Ropes Course at Basic Camp in Fort Knox, Kentucky July 21, 2021. | Photo by Marissa Wells, CST Public Affairs Office.

“I’d say I’m afraid of letting people down,” Davis said. “If I was to quit on one of the obstacle courses, I’d feel pretty bad about it because everyone here is like, ‘You got it, keep going,’ but I think if I said, ‘I quit’ that would eat me up. Just knowing that I let my battle buddies down.”

Similar to Davis, Cadet Mary McKay, from Texas A&M University-Central Texas, was able to complete all the obstacles because she fears failure. 

“I don’t think it was the heights that made me nervous,” McKay said. “I think it was the fact that there were so many people watching me do it. That made me more nervous, because they’re probably like, ‘She should put her foot there, grab this thing.’”

Despite all the fears and negative thoughts the Cadets might have had, they faced their fears and are stronger – and more confident – because of it.