This morning I listened to a podcast from Nia Shanks on The Nia Shanks Show titled “The Box.” This isn’t a physical box – not one that is shipped to you with a gift inside . It’s a metaphorical one that we’ve been put into, either by ourselves in, others around us or society in general. It may be a “one size fits all” box or a “you’re designed to follow this path” box, or “your life consists of college, career, marriage and kids” box. The point is that it limits us. It holds us back from who we truly are, and it defines us rather than allowing us the freedom to discover ourselves.
For me, this box was Beaumont. No offense to the town itself, but this is where my former university was, the place I spent my first two years of college. Having visited numerous colleges across the country and applying to 12 schools before hearing from Lamar, I had my sights set on a large school in a big, faraway city: University of Minnesota, in particular. When I received a letter from Lamar, committing based solely on a full ride scholarship, I felt trapped. It was comfortable, it was known, but I had a desire to explore the unknown, a longing for a school that expanded my mind and challenged my limits. Deep down, I knew there was something better out there for me.
After two years of pondering whether or not I should go to Minnesota, it was time to transfer. This long talked about, envisioned future was time to make a reality. Making the final leap was the hardest part. I went back and forth, comparing pros and cons of staying in a safe and secure spot vs. leaving and taking the risk. Should I continue to save up money while living a so-so experience, to no amend? Or should I accept the offer my parents had given me and pay for what may or may not be “worth it” in the end?
We may experience this in any area of life: not just relocation, but in our schools, jobs, relationships, health and other important areas of our life that require bigger, risky decisions.
In all cases of escaping the box, there are two options:
A.) Don’t take the risk, and continue with your current circumstances.
B.) Take the risk, and see what happens (at least you’ll know).
Jill Coleman calls this process practical pessimism. It means asking yourself, What is the worst case scenario or possible outcome? and being okay with that. Because if you expect and prepare for the worst, you allow yourself to fully embrace the possibility of failure, which success.
For me, the worst case Minnesota outcome was:
- I don’t like it.
- I leave (transfer again or move back).
- I’m freezing cold and lonely (both of which I can deal with).
Regardless of this worst case outcome, are these possibilities enough to make me shy away from going for it? While it is important to realize that grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence, this was no reason to stay in an oil refinery town at a college I felt trapped in and constantly imagine the “what if.” It’s no reason to play it safe. Rewards require some risk. I don’t know about you, but I firmly believe that trying without knowing is better than staying where you’re at. It’s much better to regret a risk than regret not going for it at all.
In the words of Jim Rohn,
“If you’re not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”
There is no parachute, no safety net – that’s the point.
Life is about embracing the unknown. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
When you don’t take the risk, you lose by default.
You only get one shot at life. Use it wisely. (I’m sure you’ve all heard this one before).
So go ahead and ask yourself: What is it that you are truly afraid of? Why?
You learn. You leave (or live). You grow.
Best thing that could possibly happen?
You create the best life for you that there is: this could be landing your dream job, best friend, soulmate, or ultimate future goal. The possibilities are endless.
Now revisit the question and ask yourself:
Is it worth it?
Further Reading to inspire you: