I listed to Conan O’Brien’s interview with Dax Shepard on Armchair Expert today. At one point Conan was describing his thought process behind an early certain career move that, to an observer, looked really risky. This prompted Conan to share a piece of advice he always gives young people.
“You have less to lose than you think.”
That is a great reminder. I need to write that down and look at it often because I am prone to being a chicken.
For me, the risks I’m often most afraid to take are in every day social situations.
Tonight I was reading at a coffee shop when I noticed a man, probably around my age, sitting alone with the saddest look on his face. He wasn’t reading or even looking at his phone. For what felt like 10 minutes he was staring off into space with the most defeated and unhappy expression. After a while I really felt like I should put down my book and try to start a conversation with him, ask how he’s doing, and see if he’s ok. But I couldn’t muster the courage. I was afraid there was no natural or casual way to do it. It could easily be very awkward.
Soon after that he got up and left.
What was I so afraid I’d lose if I stepped out of my comfort zone in that moment? It felt like there was a lot on the line. But what? My social status with a complete stranger I’d never see again?
And it’s not like I was going to tap him on the shoulder and scream “WHY DOES YOUR FACE LOOK SO SAD?!” I was just going to say “how’s your night going?” and go from there.
Despite whatever my brain was making up in that moment of panic, there wasn’t much on the line.
I hop the next time I’m faced with an opportunity to take a risk I go for it. If it goes wrong, it’s not the end of the world.