“Often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not one has better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on one's ideas, to take a calculated risk - and to act.”
- Andre Malraux
When Kyle and I had been dating only a month, he took off to study abroad in Spain for three months. No, I didn't make him want to flee the country. At least I don't think I did. He had paid for the trip before we had started dating. Either way, to a 19-year-old, three months seemed like forever. I mean, come on, it was three times longer than our relationship had been. We "broke up," cried at the airport, and said goodbye. Then we e-mailed and talked on the phone every day that he was there. A week after he had left, my friend asked, "Have you thought about visiting him?"
WHAT? ARE YOU CRAZY? That is so not me. I don't fly six or seven thousand miles to chase after some guy. No way. But...maybe if my sister wants to go to Europe with me over Spring Break...
And, so, I called my sister, we checked flights, I picked up extra shifts for a month, and we took off to spend 10 days in Paris and Barcelona. My sister hadn't ever met Kyle before. I was a nervous wreck. I didn't know if he and I were still dating or if my sister would approve of him or, or, or...
Then I let it all go. The first night we arrived, after a huge ordeal with switching flights at the last minute, sleeping at the airport for hours, and meeting a friendly Brazilian woman who helped us find the metro at midnight, my sister stayed at the hotel while Kyle and I went on a walk. That night, it rained for the first time since Kyle had been living there (and continued to do so until the morning we left for Paris). At one point, as we walked through a crowd, he put his hand on the small of my back to guide me through the hoards of people. Right at that moment, I knew this trip, this risk, had been well worth it. Three and a half years later, we were married.
Some of the best experiences in my life have not happened to me but because of me. I don't mean that to sound arrogant; my point is that, for the most part, people aren't successful or happy just because they were super lucky or especially qualified. I believe we can all have a taste of success and happiness if we decide to work toward our goals and take more risks.
Happiness doesn't just happen. We have to do some of the preparation for it. I took a risk with Kyle, and I'm about to take a risk starting a new job in a couple of weeks. If it turns out half as well as my decision to fly to Europe, then it will have all been worth it.
Taking (calculated) risks is something we're all capable of in our lives. I have found that, in addition to "knowing the right people," life is about knowing the right times to leap. As so many wise people before me have said, you have to be willing to risk if you hope to gain. To (calculated) risk taking!
(Next week's thing my life doesn't need: Drama.)