People must think that risk-taking has to be scary or monumental or life-threatening to be significant. Like bungee jumping or sky diving. Both are life-threatening risks, and probably simultaneously scary and monumental. Anyone who has ever been bungee jumping or sky diving seems to do it when they turn 3o or on some other milestone birthday. But regardless of the date, the sheer act of jumping out of a moving plane from thousands of feet in the air or off of a bridge from hundreds of feet in the air with only a bungee cord as security no doubt creates a life-long milestone that marks a moment in time that will forever be remembered.
Bungee jumping and sky diving are huge risks, right? What if the parachute doesn’t open or the bungee cord snaps? Then what? So far I haven’t been able to bring myself to take either one of those risks.
But risks don’t have to be huge. Risk-taking in its simplest form is the equivalent of trying something new. Like a new food, for example. If you have never tried sushi, as I had never done for many years of my life, it is a risk to try it for the first time. All you sushi lovers are probably thinking, what is the risk in that? Well, I risk a bad taste in my mouth if I don’t like it. I risk the embarrassment of spitting the food back out on to my plate in front of friends, whose feelings I don’t want to hurt, or who I don’t want to think badly of me. I risk making a funny face in front of the boy I’m with on a first date. I risk all the things that could happen with a bite of sushi gone awry.
Learning to ride a bike for the first time is also a risk. A boy learning to ride his bike risks falling off the bike, scraping his knee, ripping a hole in his blue jeans or worse, getting tangled up in a dog’s leash as his neighbor walks by, causing the dog to go haywire, run wildly, pull the bike much faster than the he can handle until both he and his neighbor fall to the ground in a tangled mess of bike, leash and slobber.
But isn’t bike riding as big of a risk as bungee jumping or sky diving? What if he wasn’t wearing a helmet and he gashes his head open on the sidewalk curb? Then what? Does that risk keep him from learning to ride, or from getting back on his bike after a fall?
Riding a bike is something that most people do, and it’s risky. Heck, just leaving the house every day is risky — you risk the chance of being struck by a car while crossing the street. People do this every day, risking their own life to cross a city street, and yet they shy away from sharing a part of themselves with the world. They shy away from pursing their true passion and thus their true identity because they are afraid to risk rejection or criticism or worse, failure.
I’ll be the first to admit that rejection and criticism and especially failure are uncomfortable. But why not risk being uncomfortable at least until you find out whether or not it’s worth it? I would rather risk the bad taste in my mouth than live with the unanswered question of whether or not I like sushi. Tasting sushi for the first time is not scary or monumental or life-threatening, but it’s definitely significant.
So why not try something new every day? Try to take at least one risk (or five) every day? I’m not suggesting that everyone quits his or her job like I did, but I am suggesting to try new things that will test the limits of your uncomfortableness.