When I was in third grade, I wanted so badly to try out for the school play. It was a far stretch to get any significant part because I was up against fourth and fifth graders along with my own classmates; but still, I coveted the small, but mighty role of the princess. (Who didn’t?)
I practiced my audition lines for a week and in my mind, saw myself on stage wearing the costume (a trick I learned from my mom). I became pretty good at projecting my voice and tried to avoid thinking about the prettiest fifth grader who was trying out for the same role.
Audition day came, I threw caution to the wind and I gave it my all. And you know what? I got the part. Whoa. That was the first real risk I can remember taking and it paid off!
So, what encourages us to take risks?
My first go-to thought when considering a healthy risk is how I will lose out if I don’t take the leap–how my life will not be quite as rich if I don’t let go of some fear and leap into the unknown.
And other times, taking a risk is about growth. It’s about knowing that I need to challenge myself in order to stretch who I think I am. Risk-taking keeps me humble. It helps me create my boundaries and helps me learn how to adjust my sails as I go.
Mostly, I know I must take risks in order to become who I am meant to be.
I recently took part in the JuneBug Art Festival in Metuchen. It was the first time I actually set up a table and sold my prints as an artist. I felt like I was trying out for another play: I prepped for weeks. I had a banner printed for my table, stocked up my inventory and planned out the logistics of the evening. I made a detailed list of what to bring, practiced swiping cards on my Etsy reader for credit card sales on site and made sure I had a bowl of candy to lure young eyes over to my table. It was a great learning experience just getting ready for it.
But I have to be honest, at first, the night was a bit disappointing. The crowd was small–apparently the previous week was jam packed with attendees, but this week, school had ended and a lot of families left town for vacation. And although the remaining crowd was encouraging, they just weren’t in a buying mood.
Then I decided to take a look at it with different eyes. Once I let go of the financial disappointment, I realized there was so much about the experience that was a total win for me:
- I was recognized as one of the top 5 exhibitors for my work from the festival committee, which showed me that I’m on the right path.
- I received many compliments about my work and how beautiful it was, from people of all ages. I felt fulfilled just because it touched them in the way I had intended it to.
- I didn’t feel awkward or ‘salesy’ about selling my prints like I thought I might; I recognized that loving my creations will attract others who feel the same way about them. It made me feel calm and confident in my ability to create art that others will love.
I took the risk to exhibit and even though I didn’t profit financially very much, I gained so much more: it gave me the fuel to keep going and to try it again. Risks are funny like that; it’s easy to think that one outcome will be a good indicator of success (sales, in this case) but really, it was something far more subtle and easy to overlook, that told me what I needed to know (the public’s positive reaction). The reaction to my work was what I have always dreamed of; they were encouraging, responsive and excited. It was so inspiring to see.
In all, it was a great reminder to continue to do things that I haven’t done before. I need to keep taking risks because no matter if I fail or succeed, they always teach me something in the end. Whether it’s going for that part in the school play or putting my art out there for the world to see, I must keep trying. And I hope you keep trying, too.