I’ve been thinking a lot about growth and risk and the connection between the two lately. In my experience, being a responsible adult lends itself to playing it safe. Stick to what I know so I know what I’ll get. But what happens when what I know doesn’t feel like enough?
Going outside of what I know is risky. However, is there a point at which staying within my safety bubble becomes risky, too? Are the only two options in life to grow or to shrink? Does stasis really exist?
This growth and risk question can be applied to a lot of areas of life. For instance, church and faith. Mike and I have belonged to the same parish for more than 26 years. It’s the church we attended when we got married. It’s the church where our children were baptized, where we made some really good friends. But it’s different now. Many of our friends have left the parish. We no longer have kids in the school so we don’t know as many people. And instead of an important part of my life, a vibrant community, church feels like a building.
The way I see it, we have three choices. Stay, going to Mass on Sundays and not much more. But the status quo leaves me feeling unfulfilled. The second choice is to leave, find a new parish. That’s risky, for sure, and it doesn’t feel right, at least not right now. The third choice is to stay and make an effort to be more involved, to get to know those people we don’t know at all. That feels risky, too, but it also feels more like something that will lead to the kind of growth I’m looking for.
Work is another area where I’m really feeling the connection between growth and risk. I love the people I work with. I love the people I work for. I don’t really love the work that I’m doing, in part because I’ve been doing it for almost 14 years. But this job is safe. I know what the expectations are. I know what the salary and benefits are. I know that my bosses are terrific at encouraging work-life balance. All that is safe…is it enough?
I’m two semesters into the risk I decided to take that might lead me to career growth — pursuing a master’s degree in an area unrelated to my bachelor’s degree. But when I think about leaving the safety of the job I have, I get 27 different kinds of nervous. That’s ok. I don’t have to make that decision right now. What I have to do right now is stay the course on this commitment I’ve made to get a master’s in healthcare management. There is growth in that, too.
Even my choices within this master’s program offer a risk/growth opportunity. I have to complete an internship in the fall. I could likely do my internship at Joy’s House, an amazing adult day center that is near to my heart and where I serve on the board. But I know Joy’s House, so I’m pushing myself to accept the challenge of putting myself into unfamiliar territory; I’m hoping to do my internship with a hospice organization. I believe that’s where I’m being called to grow.
That’s a big risk. I think I want to work with families as they near the end of a loved one’s life, but I don’t have any experience with that. What if I’m wrong? What if I hate it? What if I’m terrible at it? You know what, there is growth in being wrong, too.
I heard a quote recently: “Fortune favors the bold.” It resonated with me. Safe just doesn’t feel safe anymore.