Grad Girl Diaries #3: High Risk, High Reward

I did not come into this world a risk-taker. When I was younger, I wanted to remain in my comfort zone at all times, where it was safe and I had control over what would happen. Fear drove all of my decision-making.

I did something my senior year of high school that I think genuinely surprised some people. I chose to go to college 8 hours from home where I knew no one at all. It was the first big risk I took, and thank goodness for it, because it led to one risk after another, which landed me here, in grad school.

There wasn’t a certain moment when I decided to start taking leaps of faith, it just sort of happened when I realized there were times God wanted me to jump before I knew where I’d fall (I guess that’s where faith comes in). And the truth is, risks aren’t any less scary than they were when I was young, but I’ve noticed they’re good for me.

The first day I met my cohort (the group of women I’ll be spending the next 2 years with who are also future marriage and family therapists) one of our professors explained that not only would our program challenge us academically, but emotionally as well. We’d have to be vulnerable with one another, and wherever there’s vulnerability, there’s an opportunity to get hurt. “It’s high risk,” he said, “but when there’s high risk, there’s also high reward.” The reward of opening up to others is cultivating genuine, authentic relationship, and being fully known.

Not all risks end in reward, especially when relationships are involved. I have fought hard and failed hard in the process of becoming the open person I am now. I struggled for a long time with being honest and vulnerable with others who could potentially hurt me. But what I realized was this: the consequences of not opening up were honestly much worse than the times when I actually did. I’ve hurt people who I didn’t intend to hurt because of my fear of being open, but when I started putting everything on the table, I felt a lot more content, even if things didn’t end the way I wanted, mainly because I could look back and know I gave it all I had.

When I think about it, there’s still reward in failing because I always learn more about myself and what it takes to have healthy relationships with other people. And where there’s learning, there’s also growth.

So if risk always leads to growth, why not jump?

With honest love,

Claire

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