I have a hard time taking risks. Sure, I've gone skydiving and bungee jumping. But, "real life" risks terrify me. I have a hard time putting myself out there in social situations, I get anxious trying new things, and heck...I even consistently order the same thing at restaurants over and over again.
I like to know every detail of what is happening: who, what, where, when, why, how. I like feeling settled and comfortable. The thing about risks...you don't know most of these details. The lack of control and knowledge of a risk terrifies me.
My recent (and finally officially) move to San Diego was a big risk. I jumped headfirst because I knew I had to or else I would sit up at night overthinking it. Pretty immediately, I started questioning if I had taken the "right" risk. Should I have moved somewhere I literally didn't know anyone at? Should I have just gone to grad school and continued being a student...something I knew I was good at? Where was I going to live, who was I going to be friends with, how was I going to do at my job, would I even like the city? Should I eally have started completely new? I quickly overthought and wondered if I had should have bet everything on a new start and a new move. What if I lost everything I knew...and hated it?
This past Friday, my company went to the Del Mar Races. We took a half day and all headed a few miles north. I had never been to a horse race before. Despite living in Tennessee, I somehow never made it to the Kentucky Derby or Steeplechase. This was an entirely new experience. More than that, I haven't even been to Vegas, so the gambling was a completely foreign concept.
My lack of familiarity with horses, horse races, and gambling made me a little nervous. I had literally no idea what to do (I guarantee I still don't). I started off following the trend of what my coworkers were placing. My $2 bet on two horses fell through--both horses came in last place. Oops.
Despite feeling discouraged, I figured I might as well take a risk and try again during the next race. I still had no idea what I was doing and placed a $6 bet on horses because I liked their names and figured I might as well take a shot on some of the underdogs of the race. If anything, I would learn how to bet better, right?
The race was extremely close, but my three horses that I bet on came in first, second, and third! I cheered as they crossed the finish line and ran up to the area where I placed my bet, hoping to win maybe $30 if I was lucky (which I very rarely am). Somehow, against all odds, I won over $340! Naturally, I popped some champagne to celebrate and already pondered what I would do with the extra money (still TBD). I was so excited to succeed and win at something I was so unfamiliar and uncomfortable with.
At the races, gambling and taking a big risk on doing something out of my comfort zone paid off (handsomely). Later that day, I finally started to befriend coworkers and finished moving furniture into my apartment. Things finally felt like they were going to start falling into place. Maybe this gamble on a new start would pay off too.
Maybe I should have the approach I had to gambling at Del Mar: if I take a risk and lose, at least I still learned something. Granted, I don't want to apply this to everything...yikes. But, sometimes putting yourself out there for a big adventure and a big risk can pay off. Looking back, there are plenty of times I took risks that paid off (looking at you, study abroad program in Cape Town) and many times I learned (and looking at you, LDRs). All those risks and experiences have made who I am and who I want to be.
I'm still finding my way in a completely new city (literally Google Maps'ing my apartment's address anytime I get to it) and a new life, but I have a gut feeling this risk is going to pay off big.
Anyways, what's life without a little gambling, betting, and risk-taking?