I have a confession: I am the single most boring, cautious person you could ever meet. Even on the playground, my eight-year-old self waited for the equipment to come to a full stop before stepping off. As much as I longed to take the risk and jump off like everybody else, I never did. Though I hate to admit it, it was because of fear, and that fear has continued to stop me from doing what I want throughout my life. I've missed out on doing mission trips, interning and pursuing my secret dreams. Many parents would be proud of me. I’m the kid that makes sure to color inside the lines and do the sensible, non-risky things. Unfortunately, living this way has just led to missed opportunities and unfulfilled dreams. It’s sad, really.
Fortunately, there's still time. So here’s an article on ways to take more risks from somebody who’s just as lost as you. It’s OK. The both of us need this. This is our first step to living life fully, to learning about ourselves and our limits and life. There’s a saying: "Don’t play not to lose. Play to win." So here is an article with seven ways to take more risks so that you live not just to not lose, but to win.
1. Clubs, Classes, Hobbies
Yes, I know. I gave you a whole spiel about living fully, and now I’m telling you to start small? Yes. This is a learning process, and we have time.
One of the first risks you can begin to take is joining a new club, taking a quirky class or getting a new hobby. Bonus points if it's something you know nothing about or if it's something you’ve always wanted to do, but never did. I mention these activities because they are familiar. Clubs, classes, hobbies, we all have those, and we’re familiar with their structure. That’s something we can hold onto as we venture into the realm of risk-taking. It also makes us more likely to stick with it.
I also have another reason for mentioning these activities first. The reason that most of us aren’t risk-takers is because of fear, specifically of the unknown and of uncertainty. That’s a fact. We think to ourselves, “What if I look weird doing that? What if I fail? What if I don’t like it?” Yes, I know, which is why taking small risks first is good. It gives us a sense of familiarity as we dive into the unknown. It helps us assuage our fears of the unknown.
One way I have been starting to take risks is by enrolling in a figure-skating class for December. We'll see how that goes!
2. Audition and Try out
Challenge your fears
Like I mentioned before, taking risks involves facing our fears of the unknown, failure and rejection, to name a few. These are the fears that stop us from pursuing life fully, and we need to break free of them. But how do we do that? We do that by throwing ourselves and directly facing our fears of rejection, etc. The more we get out of our comfort zone, especially by making ourselves vulnerable by auditioning for college plays, musicals, sports and even doing things like poetry slams and karaoke, the more comfortable we are being vulnerable and outside of our comfort zone. This helps us in the long run, making us more adaptable as people and not as prone to anxiety in unknown and uncertain situations. Moreover, as we take the risk and expose ourselves to others, just know this: You never lose anything by trying.
Specifically, I suggest auditioning and try-outs. These are situations when you are the most vulnerable. You are both airing out your abilities that you may be insecure about and being scrutinized by others.
Here's a personal example. I have always wanted to dance, but never tried because of fear of failure. This quarter, I challenged my fear and auditioned for UCR is Dancing, a spring dance performance. At the audition, I felt clumsy and hyper-aware of my body. I was the only engineering major in a sea of dance majors. What was I doing there? I'd never danced a day in my life! Those insecurities nearly pushed me out of the room. Instead, I stayed and tried my best.
3. Daring Stunts
Embrace physical risks
Our fears and limitations are just in our heads. That's true. However, by taking physical risks, we can eliminate our mental blocks. By testing and seeing our physical limitations, we gain more self-confidence, which is key. Confidence frees us to take risks whether we know what we're doing, or we're failing or if nobody believes in us. What matters is having the confidence to try. Moreover, doing daring stunts gives us adrenaline, which is good in moderation. However, if we have adrenaline frequently or for extended periods of time, adrenaline is extremely detrimental to your health. So be responsible when doing daring stunts.
Here are some example stunts: Paragliding, free running and deep diving. But I know that most of us wouldn't be comfortable doing these, so I also suggest other alternatives like skiing, mountain biking and even things like zip-lining. It can be as tame or as daring as you'd like. You know your limits. Before you go out to embrace daring stunts, I would like to add this: Be safe and intelligent before taking physical risks. Do not endanger your life or do something in an unsafe way. If you are going to do something like rock climbing, shark-tanks, etc, make sure that you have good equipment, a certified vendor and have learned how to do your stunts of choice.
What was my stunt of choice? I bungee-jumped. I chose that one not only because of my intense fear of heights but as a nod to my eight-year-old self's refusal to jump off the swings. Needless to say, it was thrilling. I'm not sure I'll ever give it a go again, but maybe I should. Or maybe the next thing to do will be sky-diving. Who knows?
4. Study Abroad/Travel
Immerse yourself in the unknown
Study abroad and travel have a common link. They both immerse you in the unknown and make you more self-sufficient. More than that, they give you new and exciting experiences.
My personal experience is limited to travel, and I recommend it wholeheartedly. It gets you out your comfort zone and opens your eyes to a world bigger than what you imagined.
5. Change Your Daily Life
Deviate from your routine
Humans are creatures of habit. We create routines and structures to live happily in. On Wednesdays, we do X, Y and Z, and when we watch a movie, we always watch horror and never romance, or independent films and never documentaries. We have tendencies. At our favorite restaurant, we always order the same sandwich, or the same soup. The list drones on endlessly.
Now that you think about it, you realize that you really do only listen to one musical genre or only make one kind of friend. Yes, it's true. I do, too. We do it out of habit and a subconscious fear of not liking it or something being too different. We get comfortable with the routine of our lives, and inadvertently, we limit all the wonderful experiences we could be having. So, go! Walk another route to class, or read a different kind of book! Go and deviate from your normal, and I'll do the same.
How have I been deviating from my normal, you ask? I've been listening to musical genres I don't usually ever listen to. I've got to admit, though I haven't liked it all, I am gaining more experiences and even expanded my musical tastes. More importantly, I am growing as both a musician and a person.
6. Open Heart, Open Mind
Be open to new people
College is an exciting time of our lives, and it brings so many changes and introduces new things and people. However, a lot of the times, we aren't as open to making new friends and acquaintances as we could be, and that stems from fear of rejection or disinterest. So here's a risk that we should all try to take: the risk of opening ourselves up to befriend others.
I'm not going to lie. This one is probably the one that I struggle with the most, and I think most of us do. Inherently, we limit the scope of our interactions with others. The risk of trying to open ourselves to others is great. Think about it this way: In life, we can categorize our relationships as family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. If we open ourselves up to someone being our friend, truly our friend, the likelihood is low, which raises the chance for us to be hurt or disappointed. But, personally, I think it's better to try and be open to new friendships and relationships than to close ourselves off be safe. Otherwise, we will never gain any more experiences beyond what we already know.
Like I mentioned before, this one is particularly hard for me. Why? I'm an introvert. As soon as I meet someone new, I clam up. You couldn't pry me out of my shell if you tried. Recently, I've been trying harder than ever to make myself open to new people and even old ones I had once relegated as acquaintances. It's a learning process, and I will admit, I have failed numerous times, but slowly, I am getting better at opening up.
7. Be Genuine
Show who you are
We all have a public persona. In this day and age, that's especially true. We present the best versions of ourselves, the most edited. If we looked at our social media, we'd see our coolest, staged, pre-selected photos, videos and tweets. If we saw how we interact with others, we'd see the front we put on. This raises the question: Why do we so carefully edit ourselves? We do it out of a need for recognition and approval, out of fear that our unedited selves won't be enough. In a sense, it is out of fear of rejection. So this is my challenge to you and me: Take the risk and show who you truly are. Be genuine with others.
There, seven risks that you can take, and my little confessions as I've tried to take the risks. Like me, you will be uncertain and will sometimes fail. That's OK. At least we have tried. At least we have experienced. At least we are living fully, living not only to not lose but to win. Enjoy your life to the fullest extent, and whenever you get the opportunity, jump off the swing. Take all the risks.
Life is too short to be scared and not take risks. I'd rather be the person that's like, 'I messed up,' than 'I wish I did that.'
Lead Image Credit: Pexels