The picture that goes with this post is silly, but it represents my fear of heights. There’s taking stupid risks and there’s taking calculated risks.
Before I became a full-time writer, my husband and I went on a vacation to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. One of the excursions we went on included an “outdoor adventure.” And by adventure they meant, boating across the ocean with dolphins alongside the dinghy, taking a military vehicle through a fishing village full of mangy dogs and fleas and riding a donkey up the side of a mountain (very narrow trail). And the “adventure” part hadn’t even started yet.
After we got to the top, we left the donkeys at the hitching posts and walked to the first zip-line. Oh, boy! I’m absolutely terrified of heights, and we were 600 feet above the jungle. They said not to go too slow or you’d end up stuck in the middle and not make it to the landing. No way in hell was I going to get stuck. I came in on that landing at full speed. Oops. There were six opportunities to zip-line, so I perfected my technique and never came up short.
We walked across a rope bridge, rappeled down a waterfall, and so much more. It was invigorating, exhilarating, and terrifying all at the same time. I stuffed my fear away for the day and enjoyed an adventure I’d never have considered. I’m still afraid of heights, but I’d do that adventure again in a heartbeat. Because it was a controlled environment, and safety was foremost.
Which leads me to take risks and let go in real life. When I wrote my first book, I’d studied the craft and written and rewritten several novels. I also had a steady income from being a journalist, but I wanted something different. I wanted to make up the details, not research them. Though I still do plenty of research for my novels, I can twist things to fit my truth. I kept doing what paid the bills, but I found a way to write too. Same with my horses. I take calculated risks there too. If I don’t stretch myself, and my abilities, I’ll be stagnant.
In the end, I let go of my journalism career and closed the profitable jewelry business I’d been running for 13 years, to concentrate on writing. I didn’t throw caution to the wind. I calculated the risks and recognized when it was safe to let go.
So, next time you decide to rappel down the side of a coffee cup/flower pot, remember to have a safety net, or locking brake on your equipment. But don’t let fear stop you.