Martz: Non-cliche advice on taking risks

The idea of taking a risk is not new to any of us. The deliberations and the fears that stand by the side of most major decisions aren’t either. I have been battling these demons myself for the past few weeks in wake of a risk I am debating taking. In that time, I’ve gone down every Internet rabbit hole I could find. I’ve had as many literary, musical or cinematic adventures and long drawn out discussions with friends that I possibly could to try and decide whether or not to take the plunge. This is what I’ve learned.

First: There’s a lot of very cliche advice out there and it all boils down to “you should do it.” I’ve read and heard “no regrets” more in the past month than I have in the last four years.

Second: There’s a reason that advice is cliche. There’s only so much you can say to someone who’s on the edge of their own personal cliff looking down. So, unless you can guarantee it’s a terrible idea, you tell them to jump.

But when you’re the one standing on the edge of the cliff, and you honestly have no idea if the result is going to be amazing or terrible, what can anyone say to you to help you decide? Well, stick with me. I think I may have found something.

Third: If your personal cliff is as high stakes as mine—in other words, if the good result is amazing and the bad result is terrible—you have to ignore the bad, just for a moment, and ask yourself how much you want that good result and what you would do to achieve it. For the biggest and most high-stakes risks, you don’t get to choose or even affect where you fall. You just jump, shut your eyes tight and, eventually, land.

Fourth: It might take you a little while to decide how much that good result is worth. And it might take you even longer to just take that step off the cliff.

I’m scared of heights, both in the real world and in this metaphorical context. I’ve been on one of those Big Swings where you jump off a platform and experience free fall before the swing catches you. Every time I stand at the edge of the jump zone, it takes all the will in my entire body to just step off the platform and trust the process. Then, in the end, it’s always amazing. I unhook myself from the line, giddy, and go straight to the next line. And then, as I look down, it’s like I can’t remember the floating feeling, I can only feel the fear as I look down at my feet and the process starts again.

So what? We can never learn? Only adrenaline junkies can take risks? No.

This leads me to number five: Everyone jumps off the zipline platform at their own pace. And sometimes it’s a crazy amazing ride, and sometimes you get smacked in the face by some branches. After a while, though, you reach a point where the jump is inevitable, and you’re only delaying the fall.

So I can’t really give you non-cliche advice about risks. But I will give that advice a new spin. If you’ve been waiting on the edge of the cliff, you know what you want. Eventually, one way or another, you’ll end up standing on the other side, better for what you have done. So, I really only have one piece of advice, and while it’s sadly cliche, I think it deserves its prolific status.

Sixth: Close your eyes, screw your courage to the stinking place and make it happen.

Paulina Martz is a second-year theatre and psychology double major. If you go ahead and take your own risk, she invites you to let her know how it goes. Good luck.