Saying ‘Yes’

To be our best selves, we must detach from the comfortable and familiar, we must be willing to take risks, to face uncertainty.

Recent conversations I’ve had with my husband and boyfriend reflect a certain restlessness in both of them. My boyfriend has felt a need for change that has persisted for the last few months, though he’s not sure where it may manifest, if at all. For now, he’s keeping himself open to opportunities. My husband has come to the point of stagnation in his career – caps on earning and advancement – that for several years he’s been willing to deal with for the sake of other benefits, but now he’s considering alternatives that would give him new and more frequent challenges.

I hope I can say this without seeming patronizing, but I’m happy for them to be receptive to change, and I’m proud of them for WANTING it. Taking risks is hard. But it’s one of the things that make life worth living.

Even when it doesn’t produce the desired result, pushing ourselves outside our comfort zones yields rewards. We learn something new about ourselves and our capabilities. Perhaps we uncover a new skill or strength, or our goals and values become clearer. Pushing ourselves beyond the familiar taps into our need for achievement and our intrinsic motivation toward self-improvement.

We can spend our whole lives doing the safe thing or the smart thing, but if it doesn’t make us happy – or happy enough – then why are we doing it?

I can speak from experience. I can talk to a lifetime of defining my personal goals by what I believed others expected of me. I directed my education and career along particular paths because I reasoned it was what I “should” do. Despite my advancements, I was half-fulfilled. I succeeded while feeling like a fraud. No matter my position or span of control, I always felt like the cliché square peg.

I’ve been gaining courage these last few years to finally follow my passions. To write. To create. To love. And I can dwell in profound joy and contentment because I am living as myself. I am choosing my path for no one else but me. I believe the health of my relationships is an effect of this new-found authenticity. I can embrace myself – flaws and all – in a way I couldn’t before, and this gives me a desire to help and be of service to others.

I hope I can encourage and support my husband and boyfriend in the ways they need, to positively affect their capacity for risk and change. And I hope I can do so without inadvertently influencing their choices, by acknowledging my own “agenda.”

“This is our big chance to see what people think of us. The real us. We have to show em there’s nothing to be afraid of. If we don’t get over our fears, they never will.”
Lisi Harrison, Monster High

“Life is sacrifice and risk-taking, and nothing that doesn’t entail some moderate amount of the former, under the constraint of satisfying the latter, is close to what we can call life. If you do not undertake a risk of real harm, reparable or even potentially irreparable, from an adventure, it is not an adventure.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Skin in the Game: The Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
Helen Keller, The Open Door

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