How often do you take risks?
It’s a question I’ve found myself asking more and more this year. I’ve never really been a risk taker myself; I’ve always been a bit of a goody-two-shoes. When I was younger, I never liked to upset my parents, I never really went through that rebellious stage. I hardly had tantrums, I was hardly ever ‘naughty‘. I always tried my best in school and if I ever did anything wrong, well, I was a wreck; I’m the only kid I knew who, even as a teenager, felt a swell of tears for doing something wrong. As I grew up I learnt to stretch this a bit, I learnt more and more what I could get away with and how some consequences mattered more than others… but I still didn’t really take risks. My lazy University life, where I pushed the extremities of attendance and deadlines, aside I never really left my comfort bubble.
I have friends who have travelled, I have friends who live in different countries, or who follow different, out of the norm, career paths. I haven’t really done much of that, or much of anything. I went from School, to College, to University, to working full-time. That’s. About. It. It’s enough to make you a bit melancholy; it’s enough to make you sit back and think “What am I doing with my life?”. There are things out there I’ll never see, people I’ll never meet, experiences I won’t partake in. I’ll sit at parties and hear the stories of my friends who have cycled solo around Australia’s coast, those who taught English in Hong Kong, or those who have driven (Yes: Driven) from England to Mongolia, and I’ll have nothing of worth to input.
It’s something I’ve thought about a lot, something I would dwell on from time to time, but something that became more prominent as I started the process to buy a house; another norm, another anchor to this stable risk-averse life. To make matters worse, I’m a big believer that it’s these risks, these forays out of our relatively small comfort zones, that shape our character. Was I doomed to never be shaped? Never be modelled? Never have any experience to give weight to my perspectives? No, I came to a slightly different realisation instead.
I realised these aren’t the risks for me. I’ve always thought my fear of risks is what was keeping me back from these things, and it often was to an extent. What if something happened whilst I travelled? What if I didn’t like the country I was in? What if I couldn’t get a job when I came back? What if I lost all my money? What if… What if…
Some of my fears were more logical than others; some were because I was too cemented in this comfort zone of mine. I’m quite a nervous character at times, I get anxious quite often when I’m stepping out that zone, but I’ve realised it wasn’t just this that held me back; it was desire. When my friends have travelled I’ve been envious, I’ve wanted to be able to say I’ve done that, or have the confidence to do that, but at the same time, if I truly think about it, I don’t necessarily have the desire to do that. As much as I’d love the experience of teaching children English, being alone in a different country doesn’t do much for me. I’d be fearful, yes definitely, but I think the lack of comforts would maybe do me more harm than good. Whilst I realise it isn’t healthy to never leave your comfort zone and rest too much on these comforts of ours, I also realised these weren’t the types of risk’s for me.
I’ve realised that I’ve been so hung up on how I’m not taking those kinds of risk that I’ve never given much thought to the other kinds of risks I am taking or willing to take. Maybe I’m not born to be a traveller, but maybe my risks come in different forms. Buying a house, this house I’m in now, was a risk. It might not be as grandiose, as fantastical, it may not be . Starting a business, my own business, is a risk; it may never take off, I may not get any customers, I may fail miserably. I mean, this blog is technically a risk; I’m putting myself out there, on the internet, theoretically forever and saying, “this is me, this is my creative work, this is what I’m trying to promote“. Hell, I didn’t schedule this blog post in advance and I didn’t have a clue what topic to write about, this very post is a risk!
So, maybe I’m not a traveller, and maybe I’m not a big risk taker, but I’m taking the risks that are right for me; I’m shaping my character the way I want it to be shaped. 2017 is potentially the year I take the biggest risks, I can’t disclose them all, they’re just for me and a few others right now, but we’ll see if they pay off.