Have you ever been to an escape room? If you haven’t, you really need to try it! What an exhilarating experience! An escape room is an interactive experience/adventure where you get locked in a room with anywhere from 4-8 people and you have to look around the room for clues that will ultimately help you escape. Typically, you have about an hour to crack the code and achieve victory.
When I first heard about this idea, I thought it sounded terrifying! The idea of being locked in a small, enclosed space—where you have no idea what you will find—for an hour was not at all appealing. My husband, being a total thrill-seeker and board game junkie, was convinced that we needed to do this! I, however, was not so sure.
New experiences like this can be scary for someone with anxiety and chronic fear. So many questions go through your mind. What will it be like? Will it be dark? Will I feel unsafe? Could something go wrong? What if we get stuck in there? What if I’m not smart enough to solve the puzzles? Is it dangerous? Just how scared should I be? And the list goes on.
But I’ve got to tell you… this is one experience that I am SO glad I didn’t chicken out on! We had our first escape room experience over the Christmas holidays with Ryan’s family. This particular room was completely in the dark, but they gave us a few flashlights that generated enough of light to calm my nerves. As we looked around the room, we started to make discoveries and uncover clues. Our excitement grew every time we accomplished a task. We did get a few hints from the game masters, but ultimately we were able to complete the challenge just before our time ran out!
This weekend we conquered two more escape rooms, this time in Banff. We are currently on a retreat in Canmore with the rest of the staff from FBC Lloyd, and we decided that doing an escape room together would be an awesome team building activity. Everyone loved the experience so much that we ended up going two days in a row, completing a different room each time.
I have learned a lot from this experience. First of all, I have learned that new experiences aren’t always as scary as I expect them to be. Sometimes you just need to give something a chance… and when you do, you might find that you really enjoy it! I have never been a thrill-seeker like Ryan. Roller Coasters are a challenge for me, and the idea of bungee jumping or sky-diving makes me squirm. The only thing that goes through my mind as I imagine myself doing those things is, “There’s no way I would get through that alive.” I’m not saying that because of my escape room experience that I am now ready to jump out of an airplane. But I am saying that I would like to learn to be a little bit more adventurous… because life is just more fun that way!
I also learned that when I put my mind to it, I can truly accomplish great things. I think I knew this before, but conquering an escape room truly just makes you feel like you can do anything! Every time you uncover a new piece of information, crack a code, solve a puzzle, or open a lock, you just feel this enormous sense of satisfaction. Seriously, if you need a good self-esteem boost, grab a couple of friends and go to an escape room! You will be amazed at your own problem-solving ability, and you will feel great about it!
Finally, conquering an escape room really drives home the fact that working together makes life so much better. There is no way that I could have figured out how to escape those rooms on my own—especially the one we did yesterday. It was really hard! And it required everyone on the team to pitch in and do their part. As we solved puzzle after puzzle together, we built such a beautiful camaraderie. Each time we completed a task, we would shout, cheer, and pat each other on the back. After we were finished, we could look back on the whole experience and recognize the small victories at each juncture, knowing that we couldn’t have done it without key people at key moments.
That is so much like life, isn’t it? We are simply not meant to face the challenges and obstacles of life alone. Navigating our struggles alone can feel hopeless—the same way I would have felt completely hopeless if I had been trying to escape the “Warden’s Cabin” alone yesterday. My time would have run out and I would have lost the game. But not with my team. Together, we conquered the challenge with 12 minutes to spare!
Life is better in the company of friends. Life is better when we share each others’ burdens. Life is better when we help each other solve problems. Life is better when we support one another. Life is better when we let people help us. Life is better when we cheer for each other in the victories.
How are you at letting people in? Sometimes it is easier to support others than it is to let them support us. Pride and insecurity gets in the way, and we are afraid to be truly vulnerable. But if I had to choose one takeaway from my escape room experience, it’s that it’s just not worth it to go it alone.
And so even though relationships are scary for me sometimes, I think I am going to try to be more intentional about cultivating them from here on out. It means being honest, it means being vulnerable, it means being raw. But it also means that my life will be more fun, more meaningful, more fulfilling. And that’s the kind of life I want!
How about you?