Take a risk or play it safe?

tightrope

The more I look for things that may be useful when I blog, the more I am astounded by how much there is to learn. And of course, I get side-tracked but then it’s all learning. My reading led me to this post by Kathy Caprino, a career and personal growth coach who tells us that in 12 years of coaching she has found “it’s the very things that society warns us against, that tend to yield the most powerful returns in our lives. Society tends to subtly or overtly instruct us NOT to risk, NOT to follow our passions, NOT to rise up and speak up and stand up for authentic ourselves.” Her words really made me think.

Is this true? Are we taught to seek safety in all aspects of our lives, to restrict ourselves to what is practical, to what is known? Is that the reason so many of us are career hopping later in life? Is this why so many relationships fail? Have we taken the safer path only to find it wasn’t what we wanted? Society does have certain rules about behaviour, education, dress code, politics, the list is endless. Add to the mix, the multi-cultural influence and finding our authentic selves isn’t easy.

Certainly, it wasn’t for me, coming as I did, from a European migrant background. Finding authenticity of self meant going against family ideals, culture and traditions. It wasn’t that I didn’t respect these things, I did but exposure to the new culture created an entirely different outlook, one wider than what I had been taught.

souls

Kathy says there are lessons we need to learn in order to be successful and happy, and we need to learn them before we reach the middle years of our lives. I decided to investigate further, curious as to where I sat in all this. I confess, I am past the middle years and only just finding my place in life.

The article had some interesting points. The first one resonated strongly with me. Kathy says we need to make a stand about who we want to be, find the courage to stop tolerating what is unacceptable, and further, find what is right for us without compromising our souls. Let’s face it, finding ourselves can be a selfish enterprise, as well as a difficult one. It takes courage to go against the norm. How can we be sure we are making the right choice, or choices? What basis have we to act on? Remember the article’s premise states we must learn our lessons before our middle years.

spiritWe aren’t born knowledgeable. We need confidence to engage wisdom and discernment in choosing the people to love and trust for they influence our decision. It occurred to me how much time can be lost, how much of our lives, wandering around an arena we don’t like. We should do what is right for us even if others consider it a hobby. I wish I had tried to do more with my writing years ago instead of being afraid. I should have sought out help rather than dismissing the idea as impractical. It left a hole, had me following paths I might have been better not following.

But there is a lesson here. We may need to put the dollars into perspective. Kathy says we shouldn’t let money poison our thinking, and sometimes earning a living is all-consuming. We need the house, the car, the good schools, don’t we? piggy bankOr is that the real risk we take? The risk of settling, the risk that has us caged in the wrong place, a painful and angry place where we answer to the demands of should instead of could. I think this is the place regrets are born, and regrets are unhealthy because they negate the ability to thrive.

I wonder if it is possible to learn these lessons before middle life. For me thinking differently came with a price. I joined the Army and found myself alienated from the Italian community. I thought it worth it until I discovered I was being asked by a different set of people to conform. Standing up for your beliefs requires surety. Surety is difficult for the young. They haven’t lived enough, experienced enough, and the often, resulting confusion can undermine the ability to make informed decisions.

I may have had courage, and I most certainly risked but I didn’t follow my passions till much, much later. I lacked the necessary knowledge to know what they were. I had dreams, ideas but didn’t know how to fight for the honour of my creativity. I chose safety within a rebellion, and so I juggled and juggled, never quite certain where the pieces would end up landing. If we are not careful, we find ourselves facing years in the wrong job or relationship.

caution

I think Kathy may be right. We do need to learn those lessons because too often we are steered to what others want, or feel is a better for us. How do we find the strength to stand up, to be true to ourselves? Thinking back to my divorce in the context of this conversation I realised I stayed too long. If I had gone earlier, I would have adjusted sooner, had the stamina to do what was best for me sooner. How many of you have faced similar situations not just in love, but in your jobs, your friendships?

I think the truth is that stepping outside the norm isn’t the problem. We fear the alienation of being different. Perhaps if we teach our children to think carefully, to look at all angles but still make the leap, we may encourage our baby birds to embrace the overwhelming size of the sky.

I am happy to stand up for myself, but I need to know I have good reasons for my actions. I’d rather concentrate on finding the right path and not so much on when although sooner rather than later is definitely more appealing. I think this is something we can teach our children.

What do you think?

Alla prossima

Barb

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