I’ve never been good at taking risks.
Financial risks are particularly insidious. I took one in 2013, going back to school, in a city that has an incredibly difficult employer’s market, to pursue a career whose job market is currently less than desirable across the country. In some ways it paid off and in some ways it didn’t but at the end of the day, am I sure it was worth the risk? I’m still figuring that out.
I’m not a risk-taker because taking risks is for people who have nothing to lose, no fears, who can just pack a backpack and careen across continents and live in churches and write vintage postcards to their friends. I’ve often wanted to be that person. But can I abandon home, family, my cat, my partner, and my roots to pursue a life of rootless, reckless travel and adventure? As romantic and appealing as that seems — no, I don’t think so. Not for me, anyway. But kudos to the people who do live without fear, without roots, without borders.
I’m maybe on the verge of something incredibly risky. My life has been a series of ‘safe moves’ that required a lot of thought, planning, security, and family and friend endorsements. I may be completely deviating from that very shortly if given the opportunity to do so, and it’s eating away at me in a way I can’t explain. Who am I without safety? Where am I without roots and borders? To this day, I have no idea and to find that out and be on the other side of this conversation is massively scary and, I’m still unsure, whether or not it is worthwhile or the ‘right’ choice.
As it’s frequently pointed out, your 20s-early 30s are a time to take risks. Stuck in a rut? Travel. Tired, bored, or frustrated? Leave. Not happy with your relationship status? Tinder. Dislike your job? Quit. And it’s told over and over to us that we can and should do whatever we want without fear because it’s our life and it’s important to do what’s best for us. I don’t disagree with this at all. In fact, I think that my time to take risks is/has been within the last few years. Risks are a part of developing and achieving career and relationship goals. Risks make life worth living. If we say, just lived at home with our parents forever and ever, or if we never left the small town we grew up in, we’d never grow as people. We’d remain stoic adolescents without any sort of change, development or epiphanies. To find fulfillment of ourselves, we must leave, move, bail, quit, enter, return, or whatever the risk happens to be at the time. We must. I must. But I’m not sure I necessarily can.
Last year, I led a difficult life that was hampered by being isolated, stuck and angry at the world. I kept thinking, “I want to leave and quit and never return but, I can’t. I’ve never really been more unhappy and dissatisfied and stressed in my life. But I HAVE to keep going with the hope that I will finish what I started and better myself.” To ‘finish what I started’ I kept being miserable every day, I lost myself, I lost sleep, I lost all assemblance of hygeine, self-care, cleanliness and I lived in my own filth, at home, never leaving the house except to get groceries each week and occasionally get gas or a sandwich for dinner. Last year I had money, and a job — but what I didn’t have was a life. I gave up my life for something that didn’t even turn into anything except a blip on my radar, a year of experience, a frustrating life of nothingness, all for a career. I won’t ever do this again. Doing this taught me the value of risks because by not taking any risks, I suddenly lost everything about myself that was of utmost importance to keep.
So will I take a risk if given the chance to do it? I should. But it will take a lot of courage in order to do so. I think though… if I’m lucky enough to be offered this risk, I can and should, take it this time.