“Wow, that’s risky.” We’ve all said this before, and it’s usually considered a bad thing. However, I have decided that taking risks is not a bad thing. Obviously, going skydiving without a parachute is a risk not worth taking–that’s a negative risk, but there are plenty of positive risks that can turn into an amazing experience.
Last summer, I had the opportunity to go to camp in Vermont for two months. Not only would I miss my entire summer at home, but also I had to go on a 16-day canoe trip. In the past I thought my friends were crazy for going…and the next thing I knew, I was moving into my tent at camp. OK, that’s an exaggeration. To make the decision I made a pro and con list, talked to my counselor and talked to people who had gone on the trip in earlier years. I discovered, much to my surprise, that nobody had gotten seriously injured and everyone said that it was worth it. I had imagined hell but what they were describing sounded almost…fun.
Maybe it was a reasonable risk. But it was still a risk. In the past I didn’t take risks because there was the chance of failure, and failure is never an option. But I honestly had a life-changing experience on my trip. I know, it’s cliché, but it’s true. I won’t lie, it was incredibly challenging–from the mile long canoe carry up a hill, to cooking dinner for 16 nights over a fire, to being pushed backwards by winds no matter how hard you paddled. But the experience was absolutely worth it. Positive risks allow us to conquer fears, open ourselves up to new experiences, feel more powerful in life and learn a little more about ourselves. I proved to myself that I could carry a canoe for a mile, cook a Mexican feast over a campfire, and push on when I was ready to give up. I learned so many things about nature, friendship, and myself. Nothing makes you open up to people more than being stuck in a canoe with them for eight hours.
When we got back to camp, it wasn’t an instantaneous change. I didn’t declare myself to be a different person; I actually thought that I had failed. I felt exactly the same. I had obviously done something wrong, skipped a vital step that triggered the life changing “POW!”
But the way I view life has changed, and I didn’t realize it until I settled back into my routine at home. I had learned that risks are worth taking, because you can have amazing experiences and meet amazing people that wouldn’t be in your life if you had decided to play it safe. So yes, positive and reasonable risks are worth it. It could have been two months where I just got big muscles and shorts tans. Two months is a tiny amount of time in the span of my life. So even if I had hated it, I would have had the rest of my life to find something that I loved. But I didn’t hate it and I now understand the benefits of taking a chance.