Taking Risks: Why Trying Something New Is Worth It

by Catherine Jeltes in Outside My Art
I love trying new things and having new experiences…with other people.  On my own?  It’s mostly just scary.  If you view yourself as an independent woman though (or even simply envision yourself as one), then this is something you must take a deep breath and just do.  Every.  Single.  Time.  But once you do, I promise you will feel stronger and more empowered.  It is better than that runner’s high.  It will be a high like you have never before experienced, simply because you chose to step outside your personal limits.
Back when I was a single girl, I wanted to go on vacation.  My job had an odd schedule (my vacation time was in the fall) and I had no one to go with for varying reasons–but I was going to do what single girls generally didn’t do:  Vacation Alone.  So I went to a travel agency on September 4th and booked my trip.  Yay!  I had a plane ticket!  I had a car rental!  I had a room at a bed and breakfast!  I was going to the beach!
One week later it was September 11, 2001.
To say I was nervous about getting on a plane that October would have been an understatement, which wasn’t made any easier by the fact that we had to switch planes 3 times before finally being on the actual flight that would take us to our destination.  (The first 2 planes had mechanical issues, on the second plane it was discovered AFTER take off.  Needless to say, all of us passengers were given copious amounts of travel size alcohol upon landing courtesy of the airlines, thank-you-please-fly-with-us-again.)
It must also be noted that I was greeted at the door of the bed and breakfast by the owner, who promptly handed me a glass of wine.  Sensing a theme here?
During my stay in this small beach side town, there was an oyster festival.  Because it was October, it was cool…and rainy.  I didn’t bring an umbrella or a jacket, but I was determined to enjoy the festival and dammit! eat all the clams, crabs, or oysters I wanted, so I sat huddled in a beach towel against a tent post out of the rain munching seafood.  I knew no one.  I must have been an odd sight, because a group of guys just down for the weekend took pity on me.  We hung out, chatted, danced to the festival music (it actually stopped raining) and we met for dinner and drinks at a fun bar on the wharf.  I exchanged e-mails with one of the guys–Rob–who became and has remained a friend 14 years later.  He was even at my wedding.
 So yeah, life changing.
Fast forward fourteen years, and my more recent attempt at trying something new:  rock climbing.  Let me put this in perspective.  I am in my 40’s.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that I no longer share the love of heights I had as a child.  Mind you, this is likely because I now realize that death WILL happen; I am no longer an invincible 20-something; and I am now the age that my parent’s were that I thought was “so old” that death was imminent.
And no, I didn’t try this on my own.  Family was there, but let me just say that if I hadn’t chatted down my mental limitations (read fear of falling) that I never would have done this–no matter what anyone in the group said to allay my fears.  I also did not push myself to get to the very top.  Going to where I felt comfortable–and just a little bit beyond–was enough to put a big fat check next to rock climbing on my List Of Things I Have Done.  No, I will never be the woman in the commercial a top the tall rock finger in the middle of nowhere with nothing around her but air.  But this?  Was challenging, fun, and above all, did not require medical treatment or post-activity therapy.  So yeah…for this girl, the risks are worth it.