Thoughts on Taking Risks and Being Brave

The news that I quit my job became public knowledge this week, and as I shared the news and answered people’s many questions, I had to confront that this thing I’m doing is going to fundamentally change how I think of myself.

I’m not sure what I expected from people when I told them - judgement, perhaps, that I was doing a very stupid thing. No job, no home, no security, no plan. When I saw people’s eyes and faces light up, and I heard their own stories, and people merrily inviting themselves along for a visit, I got genuinely swept up in the excitement. Perhaps this is a very stupid thing to do. It’s also going to be the best decision we’ve ever made.

I found myself extolling the bravery of people who pick up their lives and live them somewhere else, with or without much of a plan. It didn’t really connect in my own head that I’m now that person.

I’ve worked for a year in an environment where taking risks is something to be celebrated. In fact, an environment that recognizes bravery, risk-taking and helping people to take risks as uniquely Edmonton traits. Somehow I’ve continued to believe that taking risks is something that other, brave, people do. Not for Erica.

If you would have asked me a week ago, I would have said that I’m a strong person. But brave? Definitely not. Now, other people are showing me a different side of myself:

“That’s amazing that you can just pick up your whole life and start fresh, somewhere new.”

“Wow, I’m so jealous! I would love to do something like that...some day!”

“You will never look back on this part of your life and regret it.”

Back a few months when I was taking a course from Royal Roads University, a group presentation showed the class a silly video called First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy that I have not forgotten to this day.

In our group, we were queried, “Are you the lone nut? Or the first follower? Or the second?” I knew immediately that I was definitely not the lone nut or first or second or third follower. I might be the tenth follower. But then I was asked a question that made me think a little harder. Would there be any situation in which I would take more of a chance? I decided that I might feel so much empathy and concern for that lone nut, that I would join in just to save face and provide support I thought was lacking. Or, if that lone nut was my husband.

So here we are today. Certainly one thing that’s making my risk-taking easier is that I believe whole-heartedly that Brian deserves this experience after the year he's had. Nothing will stop me from doing right by Brian, not even my own frenzied panic, and that means taking on this insane adventure and sticking to it. 

But maybe, just maybe, this is also something I’m innately prepared for, just like any Edmontonian, any adventurer, any dreamer, any partner, any friend. Maybe you too are a brave person who just doesn’t know it.

~ Erica