Thursday, June 5, 2008

Fence sitting or knowing when to jump ( part 2 of taking chances)

Fence sitters of course should not expect happy endings because happy endings are reserved for people who know how to take risks, to open themselves up to others. For most of my life, I have been wary of taking chances, I was happier to go with what I knew even if it meant that I was painting myself into a narrow and monotonous existence. I wasted my twenties in that way, the years when I should have been trying everything new, I spent sitting on a fence being safe.

I never did like too much change, I'm the kind of person who does not like rippling the surface or worse, making waves. The more unnoticed I was, the better. Typically, I would just close myself off to the things that I could not deal with or to the unfamiliar. Much too often I have found myself shrinking from taking a step towards something new. Thus, I am usually left in the dust, watching as my friends go places because they have embraced the quest to seek the life they want instead of settling for what they can have. It is not that I lack the courage to try new things, it's just that if it were a choice between going after something novel and taking the tried and tested way, inevitably, I choose to go with what is familiar.

I once read a book where the one of the characters said that " everyday, the opportunity to change your life exists". As much as I agree with that statement, the trouble is that most days, the mere idea of having to change the big things in my life, of weaning myself from long entrenched habits and ideas, seems to entail entirely too much work. And although I realize that part of the adventure that is life is not knowing what is waiting for you when you take that turn in that unfamiliar bend in the road, I still insist on sticking to the well-trodden path, sometimes even staying put, thus I miss out on what might be waiting for me around the corner. Sometimes, even when the opportunity has presented itself to me, I still choose to ignore it, refusing to join in the fray, because ultimately, time and again, I would choose to sit in my perch on the fence, feeling safe watching life pass me by. Sure, I have often felt the stirring of envy but never enough to warrant my taking action.

Life has taught me a few lessons however. I've learned that guarding against the hurt is not only boring, it also leaves little room for growth, that allowing yourself to be vulnerable is part of the learning experience. I've learned that perhaps, the key is not to change the big things in your life all at once but instead to take things slowly, step by step, like putting up my writing online instead of letting it languish in my PC, or maybe trying something new and scary once in a while like standing in front of an audience and singing for a friend's wedding without worrying whether that you sound silly or are making a huge fool out of yourself, or even learning and trying out "the moves" (as my friends call it) on some guy you like and just enjoying the heck out of yourself without analyzing your motivations.

Above all, I've learned that the key to living and having the life you want is to let go of your fears, step outside that comfort zone, climb down from your perch in the fence, and face life head on.

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