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The risk of playing safe

The death rate for people who play it safe and for those who live boldly is the same.

Patti Digh

I was not a risk taker. Taking risks always happened to be not my thing, always reluctant to expose myself for new things, to go all out, to leave what’s familiar to me, to leave my comfort zone. I was afraid. I was afraid of falling. I was afraid of the unpredictability. If the path in front of me is not clear, I didn’t choose it; no matter how perfect it would have been for me.

I always played it safe. Walk on a clear path, that everybody walked, that is already laid in front of me, instead of looking for better yet uncommon options.

I always played it safe, following rules, doing what I should do, pleasing others. I already knew I was jeopardizing my own happiness to some extent.

I refused to fly too high because I was afraid of falling too low.

And because I was afraid of falling, I couldn’t succeed at many things. 

Like skating! 

I was 17 when I first stepped into a skating rink. My sister was 14. It was the first time for us both. And we started small, holding on to the wall sliding forward little by little. And we went one or two rounds like that. And my sister…she left the wall soon. She started skating by her own, without holding on to anything or anyone. And started skating faster and faster. And soon she disappeared through the crowd. 

But I wasn’t ready to take the risk. I wasn’t ready to leave the wall. Because I was afraid of falling when I have nothing to hold on. What if I fell on my back? what if I fell on my face? what if I bruised my palms and knees? So i kept going round and round holding on to the wall. 

And then I saw my sister, skating faster and in fluid motion. One cannot even say it’s her first time. And here I was, still holding on to the wall. I was not impressed.

I wanted to go all out. But I was terrified of falling down and injuring myself. I slowly let go of the wall and slid step by step, very slowly. And I know I wasn’t getting anywhere because I was constantly worried about falling. I think that’s the first time in my life I felt that fear of falling is preventing me from succeeding. 

And then I collected myself and thought. I was wasting my time. And I was getting nowhere. And I wasn’t even enjoying it. I completely let go of fear. I imagined nothings gonna happen. I imagined I would never fall. And then went all out. Skated fast and without fear. At the end I could almost reach the same level as my sister. Almost. 

While I was skating I fell down many times. On my knees and palms, and it did hurt. But I wasn’t worried about it that much because I was kind of in a state of euphoria. Caused by both the pleasure from skating and the thrill of taking a risk. Well it is still a risk, little though it was. 

 I was glad that I took the risk. I wished I had done it sooner. But the thing is, would I feel the same if I didn’t succeed? What if I ended up only with many falls and no progress? What if I fell too many times and hurt myself to the point that I have to sit outside? 

Risk taking is essential in life. Because playing safe indeed prevents us from becoming the best version of ourselves. But at the same time. Playing safe protects us from unpredictable and unknown trouble; to some extent. 

Since that incident I slowly allowed myself to leave my comfort zone. Take little risks. Letting go of fear step by step. I use few concepts to let go of the fear of falling when I take risks. 

Imagining the worst. 

I imagine the worst thing that could happen if I do this. And if I can handle that, at least to some extent, I think about taking the risk

Back up plan

Having a backup plan easily relieves the pressure of  fear. Because it’s not the end of the world even if you couldn’t succeed.

Analysis 

Doing little research and collecting data, talking to people who have already done what you have doubts of doing help you to get a rough idea of what might happen. This also helps to let go of the fear of unpredictability.

I think these concepts would help a lot to people who are afraid of leaving their comfort zones.

Playing it safe can be the riskiest choice we can ever make. At the same time results of taking the risk can be overwhelming. Even though there is a trend of saying taking risks is the key to success, many fall into the depths of despair when they can’t succeed. Like what happened to Icarus who flew higher and higher. 

What I have to say is that life is short. Whether you play it safe or take risks, always remember that you have to deal with the consequences of your decision for the rest of your life. 

Do you want to live your life to the best? Become the best version of yourself? Aim higher and higher even though you are at a risk of failing? Enjoy the thrill of doing what you want?

Or do you want to live a life where nothing good or bad happens? And make decisions that don’t have overwhelming consequences even though they cause no progress? Would you rather protect yourself from something that might never happen than moving forward?

One cannot say playing safe is wrong and taking risks is right. Or vise versa. It’s all about what you want in life and the ability to live with the consequences of your decisions.

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