“The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.”
― Chuck Palahniuk,
When I was 25 I quit my job, I turned down a very competitive position in a post graduate animateuring program and I put what was left of my life into storage. A week before Christmas I got on a plane and I moved to a remote village on the south coast of East Java Indonesia. It was one of the biggest risks I had ever taken in my adult life. I opened myself up to the world and I learned more about myself in the three years I lived on the edge of the world than I had in my entire life up until that point.
Pushing myself that far out of my comfort zone taught me who I was as a person, it showed me my flaws, it forced me to see my life in a way that I never had before. For the first time in my life I actually started taking responsibility for the adult I was becoming and I started to make some really conscious choices about the person I wanted to be in the world. Up until that point I had been living in between a state of fear that I wasn’t doing enough (to be good enough, to be worthy of love, to be successful, to be happy) and a state of complete and utter self obliteration.
It wasn’t an easy thing to do. I made some pretty enormous mistakes. I put myself in some dangerous situations that I probably should have been smart enough to avoid and I got terribly hurt… but because I was so open to learning and growing and becoming more of myself, I discovered that I was actually a lot more capable of strength than I had ever believed I was before. They were equally the hardest and the most wonderful years of my life to date. I experienced incredible joy and incredible grief in equal measure and what it taught me about myself was transformative.
In those three years I became very resilient. I looked at myself in the face and I began to understand the person looking back at me. I forced myself to grow. I learned how to withstand and recover from life’s darkest hours, I learned how to find the light. I learned how to do more than just survive, I learned how to thrive.
We don’t want to just survive this spectacular life, we want to thrive in it. But to truly thrive in the big juicy adventure that is a whole life – which we all know is not perfect and shit things happen even though life is pretty fantastic – we must be able to grab hold of the shit things and let them do good things for us, let them change us in ways that help us to grow and be better and instead of breaking us, instead just allow them to crack us open and tear us apart and encourage us to stand as nothing but ourselves in front of the world.
We must accept risk of failure. We must accept the risk of having our heart broken. For every time there is risk of falling, there is also the opportunity to soar.
To truly sink our teeth into that fucking wonderful feeling that is loving ourselves and really loving another person, to truly be present in a moment, to truly experience anything is to be cracked wide open to the world in a way that lets it affect us and change us… we must first let things happen to us, the good and the bad. And sometimes it really fucking hurts, and sometimes it is the greatest thing in the world. The thing is, no moment lasts forever… things are always changing and to fight that would be to do a terrible injustice to yourself – sometimes change is the very best thing.
We must stand on the edge of the world with our arms open wide and understand that to fly, perhaps first we must fall… and when we fall, what comes after has the potential of being the most beautiful thing of all.
So I take risks. Sometimes they pay off. Sometimes they don’t. But they always teach me something about myself and about the world and the always, always, offer incredible opportunities and new friendships and amazing new experiences that I would never have had if I was too scared to fall.
What’s the worst thing that could happen anyway? Life, no matter what you believe happens after, is for living.
Are you afraid of failure or are you a risk taker?