Recently I was told that I’m afraid to take risks and rise to meet new challenges. Those who know me well find that completely ridiculous. Friends and family asked me what the person who said this was drinking. They told me this person clearly must not know me well. I agreed.
I even posted it on Facebook with a funny picture of a mother and daughter with their heads thrown back having quite a good laugh. Seriously? ME? Someone who is afraid to take risks? Hell fucking no!
And then…I slowed down and checked in with myself. The question I asked was not “Am I afraid to take risks and rise to meet new challenges” but “WHEN am I afraid to take risks and rise to meet new challenges.” There’s an important difference.
The first question, “AM I afraid to take risks and rise to meet new challenges” implies that I either AM or AM NOT a certain way. It IS or it ISN’T. There’s no in between. I’m set in stone, either THIS or THAT but certainly not both.
The second question, “WHEN am I afraid to take risks and rise to meet new challenges” implies that I AM and I AM NOT. It IS and it ISN’T. I’m not set in stone, NOT either THIS OR THAT but BOTH.
This second question feels much closer to the truth for me. The truth is that I was generally much less likely to take risks of any kind when I was younger. I lacked the social skills and the confidence that have grown in me as I’ve aged. I lacked a clear vision of things I wanted to accomplish. I lacked a strong sense of purpose. I hadn’t yet dug into the shadow territory of my psyche to understand my patterns and how many of them kept me stuck in my comfort zone. I hung back A LOT, quietly observing, never risking too much or at all.
This has most definitely shifted as I’ve gotten older. I have taken risks professionally and personally that I would have never considered in my youth. As the comment and likes on my Facebook post showed, not many I know would consider me risk averse; however, the truth is there are certain areas of my life where I’m STILL less likely to take risks.
I am STILL working on standing up for myself when I feel hurt by others. I am STILL working on finding my voice and not being afraid to speak the truths that are burning inside of me. I am STILL afraid of not being liked by others, and those things can STILL cause me to hang back, to remain quiet, to stay in the safety of my comfort zone.
The truth is I am BOTH afraid and not afraid to take risks. I AM BOTH. I am an evolving verb and not a static noun. And here is the beauty in being both, in being a verb… It means I am not stuck. It means change is possible. It means I am forever growing and changing as I learn and integrate new understandings. It means I am able to make conscious choices every moment of every day. It means even if I choose to stay in my comfort zone in one moment, in the next moment I can choose to step out of it and into something new and risky.
The challenge for me is to take an honest inventory of where I have been and have not been afraid of taking risks, to feel into the next areas of my life in which I want to step out of my comfort zone and then start making conscious choices that will nudge or outright push me outside of that familiar zone and into expansion.
For me, that feels like writing about and sharing parts of my own journey in a more vulnerable, public way. it feels like speaking up more often when I feel hurt by others. It feels like standing up for myself and others or letting others know I disagree with their perspectives instead of simply nodding and appearing to agree. It feels like opening up my heart. It feels like fully owning the unique gifts I have without apology. It feels like letting my light shine without fear of what others might think or feel in my presence.
To get even more specific, it feels like proudly wearing a bikini this summer regardless of my scars, cellulite, jiggling, or age, handing in my resignation at my current job in spite of not having another just yet, saying no without explanation to a party invitation that does not interest me, having a talk with a friend who recently teased me and unintentionally hurt my feelings, talking about my gifts and strengths in job interviews without downplaying them in the next breath, and applying for jobs in which I do not already meet or exceed all the qualifications.
Now I ask YOU…. In what areas of your life have you been afraid and not afraid to take risks? When have you played it safe? Why? What do you fear? In what areas would you like to step outside your comfort zone and grow? What specific choices (big or small) can you make that will take you outside of safety and into something new and more nourishing? What is one tiny choice you can make today that will push you toward growth? And please remember…if you can find one moment in your life when you’ve taken a risk (big or small), then you are more than capable of doing it again in the same or another area of your life.
We are not nouns, my friends. We are gorgeous, evolving verbs, always capable of making choices that take us into expansion, growth and new potential. As for the person who told me I’m afraid of taking risks? Well…he was both correct and incorrect, and I thank him for helping me to look a bit more deeply. And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go hand him my resignation letter. 🙂
I’d love to hear from you! What is a choice you can make today that will nudge you outside of your comfort zone and into something new?
If you feel drawn to sharing something I’ve written, please do; however, I ask that you be considerate by crediting me, Kimberly Rivera, as the author and linking back to the page from which you are taking material. Thank you in advance. 🙂