Risk by Casey Callahan

I’ve always been somewhat impatient with decisions. I’m very uncomfortable letting things be and seeing what happens. I pretty much always know what’s next and what’s coming. Any other uncertainty gives me anxiety and tricks my mind into thinking I’m losing control. Which then leads me to push away the inevitable, re-watch for the zillionth time a Coach Taylor pump up speech, and drink a shower beer. It’s a vicious circle.

For about 7 months now I’ve been living in Washington. A complete opposite environment from my home of 22 years – Oklahoma. I’ve been scared, I’ve been surprised, and I’ve seen myself go from complete bliss to total confusion of why I even did this in the first place. On the spectrum of confused, I fall somewhere in this weird middle between loving every second of being exposed to a new place to missing home whole-heartedly and wondering if staying wouldn’t have been such a bad idea. I feel like a cliché, I feel excited and heartbroken, and I feel like I’m on a roller coaster of self-doubt. It’s emotional, nostalgic, and scary. But mostly – it’s a game of risk.

The word risk never had much weight to me. It seemed distant growing up in suburban Oklahoma where my problems were highly motivated by show choir and what Sonic drink to order. I never thought much about the word until 1. I packed up all my shit and road tripped up to my new home and 2. I looked around me and realized how much I felt like that little google maps guy that gets plopped into oblivion, not really knowing where the hell he’s going.

When I look at my move to Seattle as a risk, I feel a bit like a phony. When I call my friends back home crying because for the first time I don’t have a plan and they respond with complimentary words like brave and strong, I feel small. I want to believe I’m being brave and strong, but to be honest with you, the concept of risk-taking is not a badge you wear proudly. It’s vulnerable, hard to swallow, and hard to admit.

But then I think back to being a kid again. Climbing trees, tangled hair, my dirt stained Limited Too jeans. Taking every available risk because in my mind, nothing bad could happen to me. I was invincible. I would brag about how high I got climbing a tree, took pride in my messy, tangled hair, and tried to get more dirt on my jeans than all the other kids.

So why am I here, now, scared of my own risk? Why does growing up make risks seem like a bad thing? Why do people that take risks feel the need to hide the vulnerability within them? You’re supposed to get up, wipe the dirt from your knees, and accept the fact that you didn’t climb to the very top of the tree but at least you fucking tried.

It’s easy to diminish vulnerability from the word risk and pretend the two don’t go hand in hand. But in reality, being a risk-taker isn’t being invincible or prone to helplessness. It’s finding home in the vulnerability and exposing yourself to the strength of uncertainty.

So go climb that tree, kid. Risk it.

EssaysCasey Callahan