I've never thought of myself as a risk taker. I've always been content to sit on the sidelines and watch others take a leap of faith into the unknown. I was always scared of falling flat on my face in front of the whole world.
When did that fear start? When did I begin feeling the need to hide away in the shadows? Is my need to be right a cover for my fear? If I can't be the best, the brightest, the most knowledgeable, I won't even try. I remember very carefully choosing activities in high school. Activities that I knew I could accomplish with aplomb. Activities that were challenging, I wouldn't consider.
That is, except the time my father made me enter a speech contest. Did I mention made? I liked planning and writing speeches, but I hated speaking to a large group. I failed and failed miserably. The speech was great. The presentation was horrible. I was one of only three entrants. Definitely more visibility than I wanted. And yet...what I remember about that contest isn't my fear and embarrassment. It's the grace the two other contestants showed me. I learned a lot from two young men that I didn't know very well, that I sure didn't think would understand. After all their speeches were wonderful. Their support was an unexpected and very needed gift.
A few years ago, God laughed at my fear. He gifted me with a wonderful husband and less than two months later made me choose. I could send Boo to a nursing home and continue my relatively comfortable life. Or I could venture into the unknown and learn to care for him at home. Not even a choice. I knew I'd learn to care for Boo at home! The doctors and social workers tried to convince me that although Boo could be cared for at home, that I'd be throwing my life away. I was too young to be stuck at home. I'd resent my restricted lifestyle, etc,, etc. They all assured me that Boo could live at home, but that the concessions it would require of me were too great. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Maybe we, as a society have become too used to taking the easy way out. Maybe we don't want the challenge. I think, as a whole, we've become less interested in taking risks and more interested in maintaining the status quo. In my grandparents generation, taking care of your spouse, your parents or other relatives was expected. Not optional. When did that change?
Now I take risks---in limited doses. Nothing too far out of my comfort zone, but I do challenge myself. And I've discovered that I like challenges. (I still don't give speeches!)