Caution! Floor slippery when wet! This ordinary sign is displayed for one purpose: to admonish people to be careful when traversing a wet floor. Still, many people react differently to this sign. Some choose to find an alternative route, others proceed leisurely, and some people choose to disregard the sign altogether. At age thirteen, I am one of those individuals who ignore the sign. I don’t consider myself arrogant, nor am I ungrateful for the warning, but I will take the risk of slipping on the floor if it saves time. Taking some risks can plant you in troublesome situations; yet, the chance of accomplishing anything is slim if you don’t take risks. Piloting me towards this belief are stories told about the history of the American people and daily life lessons.
A social studies unit in Fifth grade focused on the examination of the American Revolution. My peers and I studied all the typical facts including famous patriots, battles, treaties, and taxes. More importantly, we learned about the Patriot leaders’ rationale for launching a revolt against England. The leaders, as well as colonists, risked being hanged for treason or dying in battle because they thought freedom was worth fighting for. It was an act of courage that I admire, and I hope to demonstrate such confidence when taking my own risks. Fifth grade studies continued with the Civil Rights movement, in which more people faced persecution for retaliation. The best example is Martin Luther king Jr., who stood up against the majority of society to help others. Failing to embolden others to stand up for equality was an impending possibility, but he never gave up. From these teachings, I trust that it is worth taking risks, as long as there is a solid purpose for your actions.
Also shaping my belief were the summers I spent at sleep away camp in Michigan. Each day at camp begins with a morning lecture. I recall that the speaker once advised, “Try something that scares you everyday.” In the proceeding weeks, I attempted many new things ranging form wakeboarding to tasting the unidentified “Bug Juice” that came form the camp cafeteria. Although I detested the juice and failed to get up on the wakeboard, I had the time of my life. There were days when I perched on the boardwalk, watching in anguish as the sailboats went out, because I was afraid to risk capsizing. Those were undoubtedly the worst days I spent at camp.
Not only did the quote conduct me to take risks in activities, it lead me to take risks with people. I went to camp with my inner circle of friends, and I was reluctant to let others in. I made up excuses about anyone who tried to bond with me. “She’s too cordial.” “He’s too quiet.” It was like a game of Goldie Locks and the Three Bears. Soon, the second week of camp came knocking and every camper signed up for new activities. The kids in three out of four of my activities excluded my friends from home. Forced to take action, I mingled with other girls and formed remarkable friendships that thrive to this day. Now I realize I would’ve had these friendships a lot sooner if only I had taken a little risk.
Wherever I go, I try to take modest risks. It is how the Americans gained independence from Britain, the way I made memories at camp, and the way I plan to achieve my goals. No, I’m not suggesting you go bounding off cliffs tied to a mere elastic cord, but next time you see a “Caution! Floor slippery when wet” sign, consider this: What do I have to lose?
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.