Out On A Limb

Ashley - Connelly Springs, North Carolina
Entered on March 4, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: carpe diem
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“Only by great risks can great results be achieved.” I have often thought about this quote when I think I can not accomplish a hard task or step outside my comfort zone. As humans, we naturally feel the need to preserve ourselves, regularly resulting in no risk taking. At one time I was the ideal hermit crab, sheltered and scared of what was out in the world. It was not until recently that I truly began to take to heart that quote. I believe that people should take risks. I’m not saying people should go skydiving and mountain climbing all the time, but people should be more willing to meet new people and at least try to participate in activities that they would not normally have done.

Three years ago I was asked to travel to Europe with the People to People Student Ambassador program. In the beginning, I was really excited to be spending 21 days in foreign countries, but then the monthly meetings started. Once a month all the participants would come together to acquaint ourselves with one another. Therein lies the problem, for I was considered a really shy person in school, and it took me almost four meetings just to start talking to the other people. After our meetings ended and summer approached, we all packed up and headed for the other side of the world. It was difficult getting to know the other teenagers traveling with me for an hour out of the month, but having to spend 21 days in close proximity to them made it really rather simple. It was a risk I took; I wanted to experience other cultures and see the world. There could not have been a more rewarding time in my life as a result of that risk. I came home from Europe with a whole new outlook on life. I had friends. I started to wear blue jeans, I began to speak up for myself, and I was no longer considered the shy girl.

The leaders of the group, Tina and Brett, would always say, “At least try.” Although it may seen like a few meaningless words, everyone on the trip learned to live by them. One of the activities we participated in was rappelling down a castle wall in Ireland, and I have to admit, I was terrified! But I was not alone. One girl, Jessica, was deathly afraid of heights and insisted that she could not do it. She kept repeating over and over, “No! I can’t do it!” With the encouragement of our leaders, rappelling instructors and the other student travelers yelling and cheering from the bottom, she took the risk. A rappelling instructor strapped her to him and started going down. I thought that I had conquered a fear and risked more than ever before, but I was wrong. She had. Honestly, the happiest person out of our group was the one almost too petrified to go down the wall in the beginning.

Risk is when your heart hammers in your chest to the point you think it might leap out. Risk is when your hands start to sweat so much that you think you have become a human water fountain. Risk is when you become super aware of everything surrounding you. Risk is scary, and it will take courage, but the reward will far exceed your imagination. “Only by great risks can great results by achieved.” I am a risk taker, and I think I always will be. I want the feeling of satisfaction that comes with conquering a fear or silencing the little voice in the back of my head telling me that I can’t do something. I believe in taking risks because with every risk I know there is a prize on the other side.