Life lately is so hectic and all over the place and full of surprises and time is passing quicker than I want. However, something heavy on my heart recently is the concept of risk. I suppose this is on my mind because I recently committed to working in Washington D.C. this summer, an idea that used to scare me. But, sometimes we just have to take a risk and dive in head first and see what happens. I will share more about my summer job situation in a separate post, but for now, I want to stay with the idea of risk-taking. In many ways, most major decisions I’ve made thus far in my life were risks. I recently spoke at my high school’s Career Day and today I mentioned that to one of my law school friends and she said, “it’s impressive really, that you come from a small town in California and now you live across the country and are going to law school.” I brushed the comment off and thanked her, but the concept stuck with me the rest of the day.
The truth is when I was in high school I wanted nothing more than to ditch my little town the first chance I got (i.e. College). I was eager to escape the small town and go experience the world at college. It sounds naive and it probably was, but I wanted more. So, I chose to go away to college. Then, at the end of college, I wanted to get out of my home state and experience something new, and that seemed right because the law school I felt was the best fit was William and Mary (in Virginia, which is, quite literally, about as far as I could go while still in the U.S.). Then, in Virginia, I wanted to go back to California. So, I did for the summer following my first of law school. All of the decisions, at the time they were made, were risks. There was a chance I would fail, or end up hating my choice, or return home battered and beaten down by the world. But I didn’t. I questioned my decision to move so far from home at times, but with each passing month it gets easier and I get more confident that I’m exactly where I need to be.
When I spoke at my high school, I spoke with my former college counselor, and as I was heading out she said, “let me know what happens! You’ll make it work. You always seem to.” I laughed and said, “I guess so!” Frankly, I don’t think I make it work. For some reason, things just seem to work themselves out. When I want something really really badly, and I do not get it, it’s usually because something better is coming. So, I usually just take the plunge and trust my gut. The other day I told a friend that my gut told me the job that was going to work out was the one in D.C. (I was unsure if an opportunity in California would pan out). She looked me with a serious face and said, “If law school’s taught me one thing, it’s to trust your gut.” Well, about two hours later, I sent an email confirming I would be working in D.C. this summer. A wave of nervous, excited energy washed over me at that moment. I was taking yet another risk, and as of now I’m not sure whether it’ll work out, but here’s what I know: this summer I’m working in Washington D.C. (honestly that’s still odd to say, but I’m very excited).
When we think about taking risks, we obviously think about the possibility of failure. We also think about the possibility of success. Typically, we’re not sure how something is going to go and we just make a decision that we think is best and see how what comes. As someone who likes to analyze a situation before making a decision, risk-taking doesn’t always come easy. In fact, many people struggle to take the plunge. Sometimes, though, we become so caught up in the analysis we don’t do anything and then we’ve missed the chance and the risk is gone and we’ve gone the safe route by default. So, how do we prevent having choices made by our own mental paralysis when we’re scared to take the risk? We either don’t take the risk and accept whatever regret or double-guessing follows… OR we take the risk and figure the rest out later. There are so many times we can play it safe and go with the safe option, but sometimes in order to get where we want to be or become who we want to be, we have to take the risk.
Something that I wrestle with regularly is “what if I don’t do it, will I regret it? What if I do it, and x result doesn’t occur, and then I feel like I made a mistake?” Well, mistakes are part of life. So is failure. So is success. So is sadness. So is joy. Sometimes, in order to get what we want or find out what we don’t, we just have to risk it. I know that seems scary if you’re a planner like I am, but I will say the times I felt the most scared to do something, but did it anyway, are the times I felt the biggest reward. Things don’t always make sense right away, and you may feel like it was a massive mistake in the interim, but honestly, you’ll learn something from taking the risk. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll learn what you don’t want or that you shouldn’t repeat that decision in the future. If it works out, well, then you’ve created your own magic and you can bask in the success or joy or happiness, whatever it is!