Risk Taking

30 Sep

In today’s world, we put so much stock into what’s best for us. We’re learning to be thoughtful consumers and diners, and the internet keeps us in the know – sometimes too much. There is no need to seek out dangers, they find us – when we check our email, turn on the radio, or pick up a newspaper.

Once upon a time, it was acceptable to pack your bags after high school and take a year to see Europe or explore the world. You could delve right into the job market or apply to whatever trade school or university you chose. (As long as you were a white male, I guess, depending on how far back we’re talking.) But in today’s society, we’re constantly told to be the best. If we take an untraditional path, we might not get the job.

So how do we take any risks at all? How do we fight with that internal voice that’s telling us to play it safe?

The biggest risk I’ve ever taken was moving to Chicago. My parents were up-front with me – they wouldn’t help financially, and they didn’t like the idea of me moving there. While I live in a safe neighborhood, I can tell you that there are still people mugged right by my apartment every day. People are shot, raped, and beaten. I can’t put my fingers in my ears and pretend it’s not happening, but living in the city is a calculated risk I wouldn’t trade for the world. To me, the culture, energy, and people are unbeatable.

I’m trying to keep this all in mind as I think about life after graduation. Each time I look at graduate school programs, I fight the pesky nagging voice in my head – the what ifs. What if I don’t get in? What if I can’t keep up with the work? What if I accumulate all this debt and can’t get a job? What’s my back-up?

How do you keep these voices at bay when you’re making major life decisions? Have you ever regretted a major risk?

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