Risk: “Exposure to the chance of injury or loss”
I always considered myself a “risky” person in life. I enjoy jumping out of perfectly good airplanes; swimming to the bottom of the ocean; rappelling down steep cliff sides; gallivanting through third world countries alone; hanging upside down on a rope in aerial class. Everyone always says, “Wow, Kaleena, you’re so brave.”
But what I’ve realized is that those things were never truly risky. Some might balk at that notion, sure. But the way I see it, each of the “scary” things I’ve done have safety built in and the statistics show I’m actually in more danger every time I step into my car. I always went into them knowing that, barring disaster, I would come out of the experience relatively unscathed and still safe, both physically and emotionally.
It’s only now, at a time in my life that I am truly faced with some risky choices, that I realize I don’t like risk. It’s scary. I am a planner, and I like having a solid path to follow. The only problem with plans, though, is that they don’t always work out. And sometimes they change.
My plan to be married to my soul mate by 25? Didn’t exactly happen. My vision of climbing the corporate ladder to to a high paying HR job? Haven’t started that one yet. My deadline of having kids by 30? Not looking promising.
So what do you do when you suddenly realize that all of your timelines, expectations, and life plans aren’t panning out? When you realize you can continue on the safe path with your steady job, but know that it’s only spinning you into a life of mediocrity? When the only way out is taking a chance to chase your dreams, but it means giving up everything and everyone familiar and starting a new life with a huge potential for failure?
What do you do? You take the risk.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all the silly self-help, inspirational, “you can do it” websites I’ve been reading lately, it’s that great success cannot come without a certain measure of risk. For the past few years I have been playing it too safe.
Which is why, in February 2013, I am moving to South Korea to be an English teacher. (Cue applause).
Moving to Korea is a pretty big deal, but some could argue that it’s not all that risky a thing to do in the grand scheme of things. Thousands of people go teach English all the time, have their fun for a year, and then come back to “real life”. What’s different for me is that it’s a launching pad for a whole new chapter of life, and an introduction to a whole new me.
My plan is to teach for a year, and if I like it I’ll stay for another year. If I don’t enjoy it, then I’ll use the money to go traveling around the world for as long as possible. I have a bucket list of things I’d like to eventually do, including WOOFing in New Zealand, backpacking Southeast Asia, working at a good brewery in Eastern Europe, and living and working on a sailboat in the Caribbean. In the process, though, I will be developing my career as a writer and forging into the world of entrepreneurship. I have a few projects in mind and now it’s just a matter of figuring out how in the heck to bring them to life.
A few years ago, I NEVER would have thought I’d be saying, or doing, these things. Traveling alone? “Not for me”. Becoming a writer? “I couldn’t be successful.” Entrepreneurship? “I wouldn’t have a clue.” It’s funny how life can change your attitude. One thing leads to another and, even if it wasn’t the path you originally had in mind, you have to follow the road you were meant to take. It’s time for me to stop the excuses and go for it.
I have no idea if any of my new ideas will succeed. Hell, by this time next year I might be homeless in a ditch, licking the ketchup off your McDonald’s trash (actually, I take that back; I would literally rather die than eat ketchup). If something goes awry, I have no savings, no backup plan, no job to return to, and my parents don’t even have a spare bedroom. I am giving up all stability for the unknown.
And somehow, that’s exactly why I know I have to do it.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. ~Redmoon
What do you think of my plan? Have you ever done anything bold and risky? (words of encouragement gladly accepted…)