I remember when my husband jumped out of a plane. He had set a clear goal of making it to the ground alive and given that he was going to hurl himself through the sky to get there, I didn’t think his goal too lofty. When he landed, he claimed to have loved the adventure and said that seeing the earth while falling through its atmosphere made him reach a level of consciousness he had never before attained.
I was three months pregnant with our first child and I thought he had lost his mind; thank goodness he had enough sense to have a parachute and an instructor strapped to his back. Honestly, I probably would have jumped right after him if it had been a year earlier, but there was something about the life-changing event called, “impending motherhood” that had me sure my risk-taking days were over. I’m happy to tell you I was wrong about that.
It took me a few married-with-children years to feel comfortable sticking my neck out though. Maybe it was because we had two premature babies and life itself had become a perilous journey. I wasn’t wrapped up in making sure my kids would grow to be happy, healthy and well-adjusted, but that they would make it to the next day, or the next hour. Sometimes with my son, I had to focus on getting him to the next minute; rare heart defects will do that to you.
Once we started a family I was no longer the only person in the equation and having two sick kids who depended on my every move turned me into someone who never took chances. Seriously, I wouldn’t even change my hair color.
But, the thing about not taking chances means that you miss out on a lot. You can’t gain life experiences by staying inside your comfort zone, and I spent most of my 30s trying to create a cocoon so cozy that it might as well have been a pair of footie pajamas.
A couple of years ago I shook off those PJs when I took a leap from a job as a school cook to a self-taught job in social media. I let go of everything to which I had held tight, took leave of familiarity and started a whole new career. It was scary, and uncertain, and also fantastic, invigorating and one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done. I would still be serving tater tots if I hadn’t put myself out there via Twitter, willing to be disappointed by the reaction my forwardness might generate.
I’m not advising willy-nilly. I’m saying that it’s possible to make calculated advances to meet your goals. Sure, that doesn’t sound like much of a gamble, but you can’t move forward without first taking a step. For a lot of people, including me and my husband, that first one was a doozy!
Not every chance you take will pay off, but when you let yourself be vulnerable and open to change, it’s possible that you might find exactly what you were looking for, even if you didn’t realize you were searching.
Have you ever challenged yourself to take a risk? How did you take the first step?
Diane Lang is the Social Media Manager for BlogHer, the largest community of women who blog with 43 million unique visitors per month (Nielsen Site Census, July 2012) where she compiles metrics, dabbles in public relations, runs a very active and influential Twitter stream and does not serve tater tots. She has been posting frequently, honestly and, occasionally, humorously at her personal blog: Momo Fali since 2007.