Growing up, I was kind of shy and self-conscious, and thus held myself back a lot from doing things. It could be anything from making a new friend to playing a team sport. I preferred to do solitary things to prevent making a fool of myself, such as reading or playing computer games.
After college, my friend P and I went to Hawaii. At some point during the trip, I decided to go to a ukulele store to buy one for my brother, who is a musician. The young man in the store was super cute and kept flirting with me. After we left, his eyes followed me out the store and down the street (I only know this because P told me). She kept trying to convince me we needed to go back to the store and ask him about the nightlife (with the hope that he would invite us to go party with him and his friends). But I was too chicken, so I didn’t.
A couple of days later, we were in a tour bus taking in the sights, and P struck up a conversation with an elderly couple next to us. At one point she mentioned that we went to a luau, and they asked to see the tourist photo from the luau. (If you’ve been to Hawaii, you know what I am talking about. Before seating you at the luau, they pose you with two scantily clad dreamboats – one man, one woman. Then you have the option to buy the photo afterward. P and I both came out nice in the photo, so we decided to buy it.) So P took out our photo to show the elderly couple. The husband took one look at the photo, turned to me, and said, “I guess you are someone who doesn’t take advantage of all your opportunities.” I looked at the photo and realized what he was referring to. Most female tourists at the luau were all over the muscular and hunky young man while taking the photo. I, on the other hand, was standing a good foot away from him.
During the rest of our trip, I reflected on that comment. Although he was joking and only referring to the photo, I realized that yes, I was a person who did not take advantage of my opportunities. I only tried for things if I knew I would succeed. Everything I had, up until that point, had been handed to me. Even my job as a consultant, which was an amazing opportunity, was practically handed to me on a platter. It was during the days of the dot-com boom when consulting companies were snatching up college graduates left and right, and I happened to know a guy who was good friends with a manager at one of the best companies. It was practically a slam dunk.
So I made up my mind that I would try to take more risks. Since meeting AJ, it’s gotten easier, because we take the risks together, and we’ll still be together if we fall. Almost three years ago, we took a risk and moved up to the Bay area for a job opportunity for AJ that we didn’t know would succeed or not. It did, and now a new opportunity has come up, and we’re on the brink of taking another huge risk. I’m not trying to be coy, but I can’t talk too much about it right now. Suffice to say that it will happen within a year. Then I’ll let it all out.
I leave you now with a couple of great quotes about taking risks:
The only person who never makes mistakes is the person who never does anything. — Denis Waitley
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. — Mark Twain