4.04.2016

To Risk, To Fail, To Show Up Anyway

"But what if it ends badly?"

I wrote this line in my journal earlier this morning. It's not the first time. I ask myself this question regarding just about everything, whether it's a major life move or making a phone call.

I'm a thinker, a planner. There is no worst case scenario I can't connect to a seemingly harmless everyday routine. Before I do anything, I've already calculated the 30 different ways it could go wrong. It's a wonder I leave the house some days.

I wish I could tell you why I'm like this, but I can't dig up a reason. In the Meyers-Briggs world, I'm an INTJ and that explains some of it. But, really, I don't know. Somewhere along the line, I just found it beneficial to make sure I was mentally prepared for anything.

Of course, I'm aware this is faulty thinking, but I'm not here to bash myself. We're doing the self-acceptance thing this year. Being overly cautious has probably saved my life more times than I'm aware.

That said, it can get stifling, because it's not the sum of who I am. For every time that I've sat on the edge of something great and said, "Nope," there's another moment when I jumped right in. I've been silent, and again I've been really loud. Buried underneath  my schedules and 5-year plans is an adventurer just dying to run free.

Finding the sweet spot between the wisdom and the wild is the key. When do you sit one out? When do you go all in?

I don't have answers for that. Nor do I have an answer for what to do if you fall flat on your face. We all know risks don't pan out all the time. So many earnest endeavors fail... even when we tried our best.

That's most likely where my caution comes from. The past. Those years I engaged fully and it fell apart. The times I was misunderstood. That day I vowed I'd think twice before opening up again.

There's something to learning from our mistakes, sure. But what kind of life can you hope for thinking everything you build will burn to the ground? You wouldn't begin anything. Yeesh, you'd barely be alive.

Things end badly all the time. Yet, something beautiful happens long before that usually. We connect with each other. We engage with our surroundings. More often than not, we discover parts of ourselves we never knew existed.

Is it worth the fall? I can't gauge that from here. But it's almost always worth the journey: for the lessons learned and for the growth. We are so rarely made up of the days we stayed inside or closed our minds. The most interesting parts of you probably came from the risks that you took.

Sounds like I'm psyching myself up to do something, right? Nope. It's just  reconfirming the adventure I'm on every day. To be a parent. To be an active member of my community. To love the husband who equally fits and shapes me. To show up for my life.

So, yes I did scribble that question in my journal. But I quickly followed it with this: "That's never an excuse not to try."

~jennifer.

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