“Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, that’s where the fruit is.” “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
There are so many inspirational quotes about taking chances and risks out there. We’ve all read them, we’ve all bookmarked them and chances are, we all used to have them as away messages back in the old instant messenger days. Connecting with Dakota this week has me thinking about risks–both big and small. She was so young when she started her swimwear line. A risk. She’s leaving behind a crazy cool job for a crazy cool new one. A chance. I examined my own life and asked myself, “am I going out on that limb? Taking that shot? Encountering a healthy dose of fear each day?” Hmm…
About a year ago, my husband and I went to New Mexico. One thing that we were both super excited to do was to explore the The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. I hadn’t given much thought to the part of the trail that involves climbing up a steep, dusty and slippery path to get to the top and an incredible view spanning miles. About half way up, I had a minor anxiety attack. I found a small nook to the side and crouched into it, urging and pleading with my husband to go on without me; he shouldn’t have to miss out on this bucket list item because of my debilitating fear. I was literally petrified to keep going, terrified of slipping, terrified of looking behind and seeing how far up I’d climbed. I sheepishly watched as a group of middle school kids literally ran up the trail. Felt myself turn an embarrassed shade of crimson as a mother with a baby strapped to her chest made her way up. Why couldn’t I? After a solid 30 minutes, I decided I’d come to far and I had always wanted to be on this trail and here I was, missing the “fruit” at the top. If these kids and this mother (and baby) could do it, why couldn’t I? And I did. And it was terrifying. And I had to focus on each step and each breath because it was the only way I would mentally be able to make it. And I was all alone on a now empty trail. No cell phone reception to call for help, a husband who didn’t know he should be looking for me to make an appearance at the top. And I did it. The view was beyond worth it, but honestly, it could have been a view of a Walmart parking lot and I would have been thrilled because as small as the journey might sound to some people, to me, it took everything I had to make it to the top.
Since then, meeting people like Dakota help remind me of that check in point on the halfway point of the trail, of the importance of questioning whether what I’m missing out on is worth you know, missing out on based on my fears and insecurities. The limb climbing or risk taking doesn’t always have to be extreme; it can be as simple as trying out that new hairstyle (I type this as I return from having had my hair braided in a Senegalese set of plaits, feeling mighty self-conscious about the shape of my head, but glad I went for it) to reaching out to that person you admire for advice.
I’m looking forward to exploring a different city this weekend and learning, trying and experiencing a few new things along the way. How about you?
p.s. In case you couldn’t guess, that photo is one of the few dozen I took from the top at the The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. If you’re unfamiliar with this glorious place, I highly suggest looking up some photos (especially of the crazy cool tent like rocks which aren’t pictured here) and even more highly suggest you visit in person.