October 26, 2021

When Is It Time to Take a Risk?

The times in my life when I’ve had my biggest successes have been the times I’ve taken the greatest risks. And yet, every time I have to take a risk, I’m nervous to do it. 

This week, I took a professional gamble. I went out to do some work, with no guarantee that it would result in publication. I wanted to go because it felt like a good experience, but it is a risk financially, and required me to lose some time with my kids.

At this point, I don’t know how it will turn out. It could turn into something important. It could be a dud. It could be somewhere in between, but all I know is, I’m not playing it safe anymore. Every time I’ve taken a risk, whether it be breaking apart my 12 year marriage or following a story to a remote cabin in Idaho on my own dime, I’m happy I did it.

And yet, every time it comes time to take a risk, I’m very hesitant. In order to go on this trip, I had to text three different groups of friends and waffle and stay up late wondering if I was wrong. If I was dumb. If I was silly to play the professional when I am really just an amateur. The dreaded imposter syndrome took hold. 

A 2019 KMPG study showed that women actually take fewer risks as they get older. 45 percent of women who had less than five years of experience in their careers were more willing to take risks than the 35 percent of women who had 15 or more years of experience.

Comfort makes people more risk averse. But there is nothing about our time in America that is comfortable right now for women.

After two years now of pandemic, I am tired of holding it all together. I’m tired of working within the confines of a society and a culture that does not care for me. I’m tired of waiting for permission. I’m tired of waiting for the right time. I’m tired of being calm and being good. I’m done.

So, you know what? Bring on the risks.

I think as a mother, I’m supposed to be careful. I’m supposed to tread lightly and dutifully. But truly, being a mother has made me want to live more boldly. I don’t want my kids to grow up with the model of motherhood being one of martyrdom. I want them to see a vibrant and colorful life. I want them to see me take risks.

So, here we go.

Let’s hope it pays off.