We now live in a society where from a very young age a certain belief system is instilled into us. The belief system goes a little something like this:
1. Do well at school to get good grades so you can get into university
2. Choose what you want to do for the rest of your life at the age of 17 when you go to university
3. Build a career from said university degree
4. Find a well-paying job you can progress in but mostly stay with it until retirement age
5. Find a partner, get married to this partner, have kids and generally a happily ever after life
6. Retire (if you are lucky) at the age of 65 and then begin to do the things you have always dreamed of within whatever years you have left
For many people this is exactly what they want out of life and of course that is ok and everyone's choice. However, as this is a belief system that is instilled to us, many people believe that stepping outside of this just isn't possible. Once you've started on that career ladder you simply cannot jump off and as soon as kids come along it's game over; or is it?
As the title suggests what if playing it safe is indeed worse than risking it all? Take my own situation for example. At the minute I am in the United States and have been travelling for the past two months. I quit everything that I had in the UK in order to pursue a trip that I have been dreaming and talking about for the past four years. Many people I talk to, although they think it is amazing what I am doing, you can see a little panic that creeps across their faces. They ask me, but what will you do after this year is over? How can you even fund something like this? Or the even bigger question which they can't understand is why would I even do something like this and risk everything?
My answer to them is : "Isn't it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all?"
I've always loved that saying and I don't think you can truly understand it until you have gone through your first heart break. Hurts like hell and you would do anything to stop that pain except go back in time and not have the relationship. Most people you ask would say that they do not regret being with the person (certain caveats aside) even though getting over someone is one of the hardest things you have to do especially in your young adult life.
I believe that this sentiment has to be employed into life in general as well. That is that it surely must be better to risk everything than to retire at 65 and wish what if. What happens if you get to retirement age and you are then too sick to do what you want? Morbid thought I know but really that is the reality isn't it. My own Dad has experienced this with several of friends and ex-colleagues who worked all their life and retired only to be diagnosed with a terminal illness a year after.
What are you left with?
Once getting to that age what happens if all you are left with is unfulfilled dreams and wishes that if only you had seized the opportunity when you could. What could have been of your life if you held your breath and jumped in with both feet into the unknown of your dream? A huge risk yes but isn't that better than just living in a world of comfortable?
I know that I am quite different in my thinking to many people on this. For me one of the major reasons why I took off to do this trip was because the thought of thinking what if scared me more than leaving everything behind. Like I said as well this is often a life that many people strive for and I'm not saying it isn't a great life. But I would urge for those that have that niggling thought of should you or shouldn't you take the risk, if you can, then I say take it. I am living with the risk just now and every day I do have the fears and realisation of thinking what have I done. But then I look at which city, person or experience I am having now and I remember my why. Sometimes we need to step outside of that comfort zone to risk it all for what we really want.
If you could, is there something that you would love to risk all for?