#Write31Days 24: Taking Risks and Making Things Work

All advice is autobiographical, so we don’t look at advice as being good or bad but as being relevant or irrelevant to us. We don’t blindly follow advice just because we like the source, and we definitely don’t disregard advice based on where it came from – we welcome everyone’s opinion! We believe that when choosing to take a risk in life, this is the difference between being reckless and making a calculated risk.

Jack: A high school teacher once told me I didn’t need a college degree because I could learn all the same things for free myself. This was categorically bad advice that I did not take, but I have to assume there’s a non-zero number of people for whom this will be true. I’m proud of my degree and would encourage college aspirations in any given kid, yet I would never tell a teenager that they were doing life all wrong if they had a plan for themselves that didn’t include college. 

The first person we told about our engagement was Jack’s sister, Kristie. She was our first and strongest supporter! From there we have had mixed results; partly because we actively sought advice from colleagues, acquaintances, and relatives that we knew would be uncomfortable about the news, we had multiple conversations with people – before and after our wedding – who advised us that we should not be together. Our mixed-race, mixed-faith, mixed-football team allegiance household is one or two too many “mixes” for some registered voters still to this day. “Can’t she find some nice boy in that church of hers?” one person asked, going on to explain that they were merely worried for us that some people might, you know, be difficult.

This advice is garbage, but it has its value. Even bad advice can be illuminating! (For one thing, some of the advice we got happened to illuminate a couple names on our invite list that didn’t belong there 🙃) Inversely, sometimes you get really good advice that just doesn’t apply to your situation. Oh, a different major would have lead to a more lucrative career? Great, but that’s one of several important considerations, not the sole or dispositive factor.

Emily: I really have never been much of a risk taker. I’m the girl that always prefers to follow the rules. Even when Jack and I decided to get married, I didn’t see it as a risk because we had many important conversations about what the future would look like and how people might react. As time has gone on, I’ve grown more comfortable with taking risks  because I see the value both when things have worked out and when lessons have needed to be learned. 

We’ve had several great mentors and role models growing up, but none of them were perfect, infallible humans. From teachers to camp counselors, they each had their own experiences and perspectives, and now that we’re grown adults we have the luxury of choosing which influences to hold on to and which to let go of.

Jack: I once had a relative giving me a hard time about not having the courage to confront an important obstacle in my life. I was livid at the time. They had made a lot of big mistakes in their life and they weren’t in a position to lecture someone else on life choices! But that wasn’t the problem. What makes me seethe to this day is knowing that they were 100% RIGHT at the time.

With any important decision we make together, we’ve been advised to make any number of different choices. But of course, no one else is going to live our lives for us – we’re the ones that live with our decisions! We will always consider the safe option, but that’s not sufficient reason to pick something. “Safe” still fails sometimes:

Jim Carrey: So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it. I’m saying, I’m the proof that you can ask the universe for it — please! (applause) And if it doesn’t happen for you right away, it’s only because the universe is so busy fulfilling my order. It’s party size! (laughter)

My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant, and when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and our family had to do whatever we could to survive.

I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.

We had a lot of safe options to choose from when we were house hunting, but we made our choice based on what we were willing to work for. We’ve definitely taken risks that didn’t work out before – we don’t casually abandon “The Safe Option” when it’s presented! When we’re ambitious it’s because we know what it takes to commit to making things happen. After all, why take the risk of passing up Happily Ever After?

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