As I crossed an icy parking lot on my way into the gym one winter morning, looking down watching my every step, a girl maybe 20 years younger than me ran past- ran across the lot – which was full of snow and ice- and all I could think as she ran was about the risk she was taking by running- didn’t she know she could fall- doesn’t she think about it- realize it? I then thought how freeing it must be to be able to just go about your life and not think about “what could happen” and the “it might happen”, and “what if “happens.
I am not a risk taker. I like to stay in a comfort zone. Know where I am, moving along steadily. That is not to say I don’t engage in learning new things, meeting new people, opening myself up to new things. I just don’t choose to do it by climbing a mountain, walking down an unmarked trail in the woods, bungee jumping off a bridge.
I was fearful as a child- I attribute it to growing up with a mother who was negative, and fearful herself. I was also the oldest, and never allowed to venture too far- something could happen. My mother’s own fear imposed on me. Becoming ingrained in me. Becoming who I would become. Don’t go near the street sewer, you could fall in. Don’t touch the plug socket, you could get electrocuted, watch when you are stepping between the dock & the boat, you could fall into the water, you get the idea.
I married a man who always sees the cup half full not empty, who helped to chip away at those ingrained fears that kept me from venturing out to try new things. And so I became less afraid of failing, and if I did fail, so what, at least I tried. It was refreshing and liberating to realize that I was capable of things I never thought I could do. He is not a worrier, and helped me realize that my time spent worrying was counter productive, as very often, and most times, whatever I was worrying about never came to pass. But I had grown up learning to worry from all of those things that I had not been allowed to do, was told to stay away from. The fear and worry cycle is a hard one to break.
Enough random things can happen. I do my best to attempt to prevent things from happening that I can prevent- I watch where I am walking when it is icy, I drive carefully and let the speeders go past, I try to keep myself in “safe” surroundings- so have I regressed to the fearful child I was- not willing to take the chance, for fear of what could happen? In many ways, yes I have- but it is now a choice I have made- I know myself, I like feeling safe, I am not a risk taker- it is just not who I am. I fight with myself not to worry- not to sweat the small stuff that I have no control over. But I do live a life of caution- I look before I leap- if I ever do take that leap. There are things we have no control over that will happen, but there are things that maybe we do have control over and can prevent from happening- the girl running over the ice this morning is lucky she did not fall- but I am not willing to take that chance, to run when I can walk- to try to keep myself out of harms way when I can. There are times when I wish I didn’t think so much, wish I could “throw caution to the wind”- but it is hard to change, it is hard to learn a new way “to be.” Maybe someday- someday when I am even older and in a place where the things I feared would happen, haven’t- maybe then.