In college I had an irrational fear of going home for the summer. Mainly because I knew I had left home for good and really did not want to return. So after my freshman year, I stayed a few months taking an extra class and sculling on the lake. Learning to scull is much different than rowing in an 8 boat. First you have to learn to carry the boat out of the hold by yourself, balance it on your head to the water, flip it down into the water, then balance your way into the seat without letting it flip. But then something about being on the water alone and hearing the rythmic motion of oars hitting the water followed by the silence of a slow recovery before the next stroke, it’s the most calming and focus-driven I think I have ever been. And it made me want to push myself to the limit. Until the day the oar caught on some algae and I flipped. My coach came by to talk me through getting back into the boat, but he wouldn’t help. I was mortified. You basically have to flip the boat so as not to leave water in the bottom and then throw your body over the center and spin yourself around until you are parallel with the boat and can pull your feet up under you back into the seat (trick about rowing is you can never stand on the bottom of the boat, the shell is so thin to keep it moving you will likely step through.) This took me a good 15 minutes. I remember wanting to cry from exhaustion and inhaling so much algae water. Afterwards, a varsity girl came up to me and told me how the coach usually keeps his eye out for the novice that flips first. This was a good sign, it meant that person wasn’t afraid to push herself. I had been the first novice of the year to flip.
I admire people who go for it and take risks because I know plenty of people who hide behind their comfort wall and never just say “fuck it” and make the step. And I’m convinced that people who take risks are happier. You know those people who just coast along and let life take care of them? and all the better if they hook up with someone who will ensure everything will be taken care of? or for that matter, the ones that cut opportunity short because the comfort zone is just too cozy to leave? I don’t buy that those people are really happy.
Sometimes work feels like an endurance race, like I’m being judged on how much can I get done, how much can I trudge through, and still maintain pace. I speak with my best friend on the phone and tell her what I am doing and she often says, “you know, I just try and get through the day taking on as little as possible.” Lately, every time I talk to my mom she’s exhausted from work and seemingly lives in a constant state of sighs, a chaotic day repeated over and over with frustrations building. I screw up a lot at work. Sometimes I want to spend entire days hiding under my desk. Sometimes I feel like all I do is apologize for my mistakes and it takes so much energy and sugar just to keep moving forward with a positive attitude. But in the end I hope all my mistakes add up to the fact that I am taking risks and those risks will propel me forward. At the very least, taking risks keeps me on my toes.