Musing: The Beautiful Yet Un-Glamorous Reality of Risk-Taking

There’s something dramatic, wild and dashing about a certain kind of risk-taking. It seems dashing to just go, to leave that high-paying job for some other adventure, something romantic about just going for it, whatever it is.

That kind of risk-taking seems so glamorous. It’s alluring, and the people who are willing to take those risks – well, they’re magnetic.

11052003_838385389581428_913965964354379335_oMany of our Muses are these kinds of risk-takers. From our most recent Muse, Candy, to one of our earliest Muses, Andrea, these women have chosen to take that leap of faith and pursue their passions. We love them for it, and we recognize this desire in ourselves.

And yet. The reality of this kind of risk-taking is different. It’s not so glamorous. But it is beautiful.

In my experience, the concept of risk is a matter of perspective. When you’re at that crossroads, the choice to take the risk is the choice of a single step. In the moment, it feels much smaller than a leap. (It also feels more necessary.)

The Decision to Take that Risk Starts Earlier than You Think

Be-A-MuseYou’ve already put in a lot of work to get to where you can take the risk. By that point, you’ve already begun pushing yourself, you’ve already challenged your priorities and preconceptions, you’ve already begun the difficult work of defining what you want and how to get there. By that point, you’ve probably also already made the decision to take that chance, even if you don’t quite know that yet.

We wouldn’t be here had Sarah not taken the risk to move to Seattle, or I to take the differently toned risk of moving back home to Charlotte. Through these experiences, we realized that we were missing substance and connection. From these feelings, and the joy of our long-distance friendship, we realized we could share that appreciation and gratitude widely. While we’ve grown tremendously in 8 months, those first steps were very (very) small.

It reminds me of that Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken.” In it, the narrator is walking in the woods when he comes to a fork in the road. As he says, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Not only did he take the less conventional route, he did a fair bit of walking just to get there.

Many Risk-Takers Don’t Throw Caution Entirely to the Wind

While there is glamour in just going, many people who take risks do have a lifeline – even if it’s not fully tethered. When Candy spoke about taking smart risks in her interview, it really resonated. I know exactly how that feels, and so does everyone who has a side-hustle.

“I’d advise her to take risks, safely. This may seem like an oxymoron, but the idea is to choose your risks wisely.”

Candy Dungan, with advice for her daughter on risk-taking

Even if you’re fully committed to living your creative future, you have to make strategic decisions. Having a safety net or a back-up plan doesn’t mean you’re afraid of the risk, or not fully committed to it, but it does mean that you’re prepared to pivot in case it becomes necessary.

There’s a Lovely Naïveté in Risk-Takers

kelly-holmes-byom-interview-5People who are willing to take risks have a naïveté about them. They don’t worry about the historical context of what they’re doing, what it “means,” or why it won’t work – they just work their butts off to see that it does.

Former Muse Kelly Holmes expressed this beautifully. As an early-twenty-something, she founded the world’s first Native fashion and lifestyle magazine. At 24-years-old, she now leads a publication that is growing rapidly. When asked about this idea, here is what she said:

“I myself have this “tunnel vision” when it comes to working towards something. All I see is the end result, and the rewards that’ll come from accomplishing it. Then when I’m in the middle of everything, I finally notice the amount of work it takes and all the money, time and energy it’s going to take.

“In its own ways, it’s both good and bad. It just means I don’t look at a problem as a problem. I look at a problem and think of a number of solutions to fix it.”

– Kelly Holmes, Founder of Native Max Mag

The incredible reality is this: building the life you dream of is a challenge and a journey. It requires hustle, guts and vision. It’s not all jumping and landing on your feet – most of it is taking one small step, every day.

While it’s not glamorous, it is beautiful, and we’re thankful to share this journey with you.

+ What dreams are you working for? How do you stay motivated? What’s the most rewarding aspect of the challenge?
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