The Evolution of Risk Taking

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.

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11 thoughts on “The Evolution of Risk Taking”

  1. Taking risks doesn’t always mean that it has to be a major lifechanging event. Although it’s still the fastest way to personal improvement. Getting out of your comfort zone is the most important thing you can do right now.. Separating yourself from your computer screen and leaving the house to meet people is probably the best advice to start with.

  2. Once you take that red pill of curiosity you will forever want to see how deep that rabbit hole goes. Essentially you’re just trying to chase that first high but that’s how any progress starts. We pave over the memory, the moment fades and then we want to create new experiences.

    The good news is there’s no such thing as too late to start as we’ll ultimately wish we had started earlier no matter what anyway. Life moves so fast, technology has shifted our realities so exponentially that there is no time like the present. What’s important is you get that feeling in your bones.

  3. My biggest risk: Jumping out a second story hotel window in Paris. I didn’t want to deal with the situation at hand, so I evacuated. Obviously the hotel staff saw me on camera, and came to find me. My friends, who I were avoiding, were upset (completely fair) and I offered to buy them drinks at the hotel bar to make up for me being an idiot.

    At the hotel bar, an Aussie was sitting, who is now my friend’s current boyfriend. He’s moved to Canada to be with her while she finishes school and in December, they are moving to Australia. Some risks work out well for everyone.

  4. A bit of an adrenaline junkie, i have taken quite a few risks in my life and travels that I shouldn’t have. The one i really don’t regret is leaving a job that was killing me slowly to volunteer at a school in Ecuador. It changed the course of my life completely, and now I find myself working as the coordinator in a sustainable agriculture program in Nicaragua. Life is wild. Love the blog. Keep taking risks.

  5. Christine, I love your article! I am so grateful for two big risks I took; studying abroad for a semester in Australia and beginning a backpacking trip with absolutely zero plans or end date. That trip eventually landed me in Thailand, where I took the risk of riding a motorbike sans health insurance. I ended up in an accident with a broken arm which cut my travels short. That was not the best of risks to take, but I don’t regret it. I learned the hard way, and that’s what traveling is all about. Congratulations to you on your beautiful, adventurous life!

  6. I couldn’t agree more, it is always necessary to take risks to travel. Unfortunately, however, this is something that prevents many people from actually fulfilling their dreams. One should remember that, although risk taking is inevitable, packing a bag and traveling the world is not such a difficult thing to do.

  7. Risk often has a negative connotation but that comes out of fear. Likewise, many things that are labelled “risks” are actually the opposite. Is traveling the world, experiencing new people, places, things everyday really a risk or would it be a lot riskier to work in the same dreaded job for years and years being miserable? Define what risk means to you and then realize that what you may have thought to be a risk is actually a life saver!

  8. The risk I’m most glad I took was to get married and have kids. I had done some traveling and really loved it. It was easy to keep going and to live my life that way but then I met my wife and decided to settle down. We now have 2 kids who I couldn’t imagine my life without. I hope to still do some traveling with my wife and kids in the future but for now I am extremely happy with the life I’m living.

  9. I’m grateful that I took the risk to leave Canada for my first work exchange in France. I had no idea if my host family would pick me up at the airport, let alone if they would be nice, normal and not try to axe-murder me in my sleep. Taking a risk with this exchange helped me open up to alternative ways of traveling, and I began to recognize and take advantage of the many options that exist for living and traveling around the world long-term.

  10. I’m most glad about a risk I’m about to take! I just graduated college so for the first time in my 22 years I don’t have a set plan ahead of me. I ended up getting a job as an au pair for nine months in France so I’m looking forward to settling in and learning the language. I have never been away from home for so long so it’s exciting.

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