Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Trouble with Risks

Who we are often gets lost in what we do--the vagaries, the vicissitudes, sometimes even the chaos of our lives.  And inevitably, when that happens, we start to look for ourselves among the rubble.  Some people make bucket lists, some take up hobbies, others just do really deep soul-searching.  Whatever your poison, a healthy dose of "shake your shit up" can be a really powerful and even necessary thing.

And when we do find who or what it is we were looking for, even by accident, it's natural to want it.  You'd have to be dead inside, broken, not to.  When dreams are realized, it's the best feeling in the world.  A niche that fits, that feels good, that allows us to be who we are, even temporarily--everyone wants that, to be comfortable in his or her own skin.

The trouble lies, though, with the smoke and mirrors that our minds (and others') use to fuck with us.  Strong language, I know, but it's the only word suitable.  The brain is a magical place, where dreams and wishes materialize, but that means there are magical gremlins up there firing shots in the dark just to shake us up.  That amygdala is a bitch, and not just to spell.  Get the dopamine and serotonin levels fluctuating, as they do when we're falling in and out of love with something or someone, and it's a party of emotions up there.  Not a tea party, either...more like a drunken frat party where clothes get ruined and nobody remembers what the hell happened the next day.

It's that new car smell, the sound of a beer can opening, the excitement of having a new outfit or hairstyle that you love, that first kiss, that new library book, that brand new television series premiere, Rick Springfield's (or insert favorite artist) newest album, that brand new video game that you have to play obsessively until all the characters are earned...all of those simple things that thrill us, that get our hearts racing, that make us feel like we're not just on a treadmill but actually LIVING, for a little while, anyway.

Creative people are especially at risk for being ambushed by our overdeveloped sensitivities to boredom and routine.  The science behind it is lost on me, but there are parts of the brain that sit there idle while we don't know how to get down and dirty and utilize those brain cells.  Taking risks, putting ourselves out there, stimulates those dusty brain areas and lets us use them.

I've been scared of risks my entire life, and terrified of change.  That's not a healthy place to be. Things that don't change, die...just ask the dinosaurs.  At some point, a new hair color or cut doesn't make the brain matter quiver.  And eventually, you just have to decide that risk is necessary.  You might fall and skin some knees or elbows, you might fail at whatever it is you tried to do.  But you'll live through it and come out stronger on the other side.  (And if you don't, you won't care!)

So, do it.  Whatever it is in the back of your mind tickling your fancy, do it.  The best case scenario is that you succeed like a MOTHER and it's amazing!  The worst that can happen is that you fail miserably, bruise your ego a little bit (or a LOT) and end up with a great story to tell (or write!) someday.  But you'll grow.  You'll spread your wings.  You'll learn that you are badass, invincible, that you rock your own world (as well as some others), and that you.  Will.  Survive.  You'll learn to be fearless, which makes life so much easier.  Take that chance.  It's worth it, and so are you.  Your brain will thank you.

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