Learning to risk

Image: Annie Spratt

We all need a healthy dose of risk in our lives

Everything in life is a risk. Everything we do has more than one possible outcome. Success or failure is always a reality.

Of course, if we walked around with risk awareness constantly at the front of our minds, we’d never leave our homes. Which, naturally, comes with its own risks too.

My point is simply that risk is part of life. Risk is normal.

In fact, a life without risk is no life at all. Literally. To live without risk is to be dead.

We cannot shelter ourselves from risk.

That’s not to say we should be cavalier. I hold my daughter’s hand very tightly when we’re near a road to reduce the risk of her running out into it and being hit by a car.

Some of us try too hard to avoid risk though. And yet so often life’s greatest rewards accompany choices that involved high levels of risk.

Take writing. Every time those of us who write press ‘Publish’ we are taking a risk.

Will anyone read it? 
Will people recommend it? 
Will it be mocked? 
Will we be shamed for grammatical errors and missed typos? 
Will we have shared something heartfelt only for it to be trampled on?

At the same time, if you’re like me, I have to write. Writing is good for my soul. I have to minimise my dependency upon how people respond to what I write, but I can’t hold back. It would take something away from my life. In other words, it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

Occasionally, by choosing to risk, I’ll write something that resonates with many, many people. And that is wonderful. It’d also never happen if I wasn’t putting myself out there day by day, mostly for an audience of just a few.

It may not be writing for you, but it’s important that we all find things that stretch us. Something risky. That’s part of what being alive and being human is all about. We have to get comfortable with putting ourselves out there, being prepared for both success and failure.

And sometimes it will be failure. We have to get away from this idea that failure is always a negative. If we see ourselves as perpetual learners, always seeking to grow, nothing in life—good or bad—is irredeemable.

But how will we keep growing if we don’t keep putting ourselves into situations where success or failure is truly on the cards?

I hinted yesterday how I want to be more adventurous with my writing. And though I’m not entirely sure yet what that means, this is what risk is all about. It’s trying something new and moving away from the safe, comfortable, and familiar. It stretches us. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it is the only way to forge new paths and open new doors.

So I’m going to try and keep on risking.

Writing for myself

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