Betting the Odds
There is a case to be made for taking chances. A case that I spent many years not talking about. A case that, despite the proof right in front of me, I denied existed. But I sit here tonight quite sure that I can no longer firmly hold onto my belief that we are better off staying put, doing only what is safest, and avoiding at all costs anything that might scare us or make us a bit uncomfortable. All this, coming from a self-proclaimed risk-averse, never run with scissors, homebody, who rarely takes the opportunity to do something big if it can be accomplished in a small way, maybe even turned into a different goal entirely just to be on the safe side.
I say it over and over again. Moving from DC to SF broke my heart. I never dreamed of being a person who relocated for a job or other opportunities. What opportunity did I need? Surely anything that awesome would be available to us in DC, where our friends and family and little yellow house with the picket fence sat. And if it wasn't readily available in DC, then it really couldn't be that awesome. I mean, why fix what ain't broke? Why disrupt and force ourselves to do new things, primarily alone, with no prescribed path and no friends? But that is exactly what we did, 4.5 years ago, for a job, an opportunity to live in a new place and for a bit of adventure. My husband likes to say it whenever I have trouble deciding. "Live the bigger life. Whatever choice you make - live big." Living big was starting anew, learning to navigate the West Coast weather, lifestyle, real estate market and so much more. Living big was taking the chance that no matter what we did or where we did it, we would be just fine. I spent many years internally struggling with whether living big was important at all. Who cares? What do I have to prove by moving? What difference does it make if I try something new? Honestly, I don't need other friends, do I?
All of those questions, and subsequent angry answers, were my self-taught way of protecting myself from danger. I didn't want to try anything new, for fear of what it might do to me. For fear of how it might turn out. For fear of failing. What if we moved and I couldn't make friends? Or I couldn't find the grocery store? What if we moved and friends back home forgot about me, and people here found me forgettable? What if it hurt so much that I couldn't sleep at night?
All of that fear of the unknown was perfectly reasonable at the time, but now seems a bit misguided. (Though I did have many sleepless nights.) Fear is just a feeling that I was allowing to hurt me just for trying something new. I was giving fear a power over me - to control how I felt about my chances at a great life. Fear controlled what I thought I wanted from my life and how I showed up in the world. And it took many years to put it back in its place. Living the bigger life is taking a HUGE gamble - not on the odds of what you will encounter - but on yourself. Taking a gamble on the idea that you, not your fear, will move you toward what you need most at the time and what you want. Relying on ourselves isn't such a gamble when we remember what we are capable of, once we let go of the fear and recognize our own control of each situation.
Moving so far from home was life-changing. It was a split in the road that I often look back to, wondering just what would have come about had we decided to take the other path. But now four years in, I believe that our gamble - to leave everything we knew and start fresh on a new coast - paid out in our favor. We have more friends than we have time to see. More importantly, we have friends that we consider family. We found a community where we feel safe and valued. We found a school that keeps our kids learning and smiling. And while we still have many days of feeling a bit out of place, still inappropriately dressed for the chilly San Francisco wind that whips through just the city and somehow misses the suburbs, we are just fine. We made a huge change, and came out better on the other side. We put fear aside, placed the bets on ourselves, and the pay-out was big.
The odds are good that you'll find others out there. People who share your values. People who share your goals and dreams. People who share your interests, and who readily share their smiles. It is a big world out there. Taking the chances that create change and offer adventure can be difficult, if only because we are so unsure of what will greet us. But why not hold on to the belief that most of the time, the odds are good that you'll find something you can love, someone you can trust, someplace to call home, if only you can let go of the fear long enough to see it through. The odds are good you'll find all of that, and then some.