So Amy Poehler got this shit right. I've never been much of a risk taker, and in some ways, it has gotten harder as I've aged. As a kid, I climbed trees and introduced myself to new people, now I don't even like calling to order pizza. Seriously. The invention of online ordering was a gamechanger for me. Our household is now deep in pizza on the regular.
And that's just ordering food from someone who's got some pies and wants to take your money. Not hard. There are harder things. Like putting your work out into the world for others to judge. Querying agents. Trying a new sport. Or even donning a spandex unitard and standing on a platform in front of an audience. I tried all these things in the last year. True story. I still don't really like talking about the singlet. It was a powerlifting thing.
We always seem to to imagine the downsides: disappointment, embarrassment, rejection, hurt feelings (or body parts), looking and feeling badly, but the upsides can be wonderful and unexpected. Landing an awesome agent. Finding your new favorite hobby. Making friends. Winning a medal.
You never know what could happen.
I watched tv-titan Shonda Rhimes' Ted Talk the other day, in which she talked about a year of saying yes to everything and how it changed her life and saved her career from creative burnout. It was a phenomenal talk--truly inspiring. I highly recommend checking it out below. And it got me thinking about taking risks as a way of saying yes to ourselves and our dreams.
A few days ago, I took another big risk (for me) and emailed a scientist whose work I admire to ask for his expert opinion about a part of my work in progress. After I hit send, my hands shook for a moment. I prepared myself for no response. Or even a rejection. But instead, he wrote back. Not only was he kind and encouraging, he shared some great information with me that I never would have found on my own. It was exactly what I needed. And I never would have received it, if I hadn't put myself out there and asked for help.
I took a risk. I said yes to myself.
Maybe you should too. Just make it a good one. So finish that novel. Submit a story. Query agents. Try something new. Follow your passion. Face your fear. I can't really recommend the spandex. Only maybe two people at the meet looked good in theirs. But don't let that keep you from your dreams. Don't let anything keep you from your dreams.
E.M. Hubscher is a fiction writer living in North Carolina. She is represented by the sensational Sharon Pelletier of Dystel and Goderich Literary Management.