A friend recently asked me what risk I’m most glad I took. I still haven’t decided on an answer: not because I haven’t taken any risks, but because risk taking has become so ingrained into my current lifestyle that they all seem like perfectly sane choices, not risks.
The thing is, I wasn’t always this way. I’m not sure how I went from someone who refused to go on roller coasters and wouldn’t eat any green vegetables or anything spicier than mild salsa to a girl who has skydived and paraglided and will try absolutely anything once, even if they say it’s spicy for the farang.
The only explanation I have is that once you start taking risks, it’s easier to take another. You start to realize that trying something new doesn’t mean that you have to love it. Every time you do an extreme sport and don’t die, you only feel the thrilling (and completely addictive) rush of adrenaline. The more you step outside your comfort zone, the more you start to crave something new.
A lot of people seem to think that traveling in itself is a risk. They’re scared to travel to new countries, to places where they don’t speak the language, to go somewhere alone. They’re worried that they’ll feel out of place, or they’ll get sick, or they’ll get lonely. They get worked up about the cost of travel insurance in Scotland, without stopping to think about the cost of living a boring, risk-less life at home.
So what risk am I most glad I took? Pressing the “book” button on the solo backpacking trip I took right after college: that single trip taught me that you have to cut through the noise and do what you love. If I had waited to do that trip with a boyfriend or a best friend, if I had waited until after I got my career started, if I had waited until the economy was better, if I had waited until the time was right: I would still be waiting. I booked the ticket, boarded the plane and spent five weeks living in hostels: it was at once terrifying and exhilarating.
I wouldn’t have been brave enough to take the risk of moving to France on a post-breakup whim, moving to Australia not knowing a soul, traveling through Southeast Asia in a state of constant culture shock, moving to New York City without a job if I hadn’t first had the courage to book that trip to Europe.
The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward, as the saying goes—and if you take a risk on travel, you only get the whole world as a payoff.
What’s the risk you’re most glad you took?
Californian by birth, traveler at heart, Christine has worked in PR in Silicon Valley, bartended on the beaches of the French Riviera and backpacked solo through Europe and South East Asia. She now lives in New York City Follow her adventures at C’est Christine and at @camorose.