I saw a post over on Quora that resonated with me. This person was talking about a girl they had a crush on and how they could get over this. I posted my advice to this person over there, but it got me thinking about it from a writing context. Let’s dive in.
A Risk Not Taken
Back in high school I had a crush on a girl in my class – most of us have experienced this. Back in the day I was hardly the life of the party (I’m still not, but that’s for another post). In high school I thought about talking to her, but never did. Graduation came and I remember sitting in my seat, thinking maybe at one of the reunions I’d strike up a conversation with her and just talk to her.
We went our separate ways. I think it was later during senior summer I was working as a pizza delivery guy, and one of my deliveries was to her house. She answered the door, I gave her the pizza and asked how her summer was going. She seemed excited I asked, and she didn’t offer a lot of detail but if I had to choose a word I think maybe she was gushing? (Honestly I never had a conversation with her, so I have no idea whether she was bored, this was me, or this was just how she talked) I thanked her for the tip, walked back to my car, and went on with my workday.
Fast forward a couple decades. There’s a reunion coming up. I think maybe this will be the one I actually go to, this time I’ll actually strike up a conversation when the outcome doesn’t matter. I’m happily married to a good woman with two great kids; I assume she’s doing well too. Through the grapevine I hear cancer took her life. I sit there reading the headline for a while – I can’t really say I’m reeling, but it’s a strange feeling that sets in. I realize I’m never going to know how that conversation would have gone.
That’s the chance not taken. Let’s look at the one I did take.
A Risk Taken
Spring of sophomore year I go out with a bunch of my friends to an under 21 night at a local dance club. It’s the first time in my life I’ve gone anywhere like this, and I’m wandering around sipping my Coke and I spy a cute girl across the club. She’s talking to a friend of a friend – I realize I have a mutual connection. I watch a while, nobody seems to near her, so I figure she’s probably alone. Somehow I come up with the craziest plan of my life.
I ask a bunch of friends to help me perform the Top Gun You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling scene. They tell me I’m nuts, but they go along with it. (No, drugs and alcohol are not involved with this plan. If they were I would have been The Joker instead of Tom Cruise) We wind up talking, I get her number, we start dating and I go on to marry her.
So many people are paralyzed by the fear of failing. When we fail we hurt, and if it’s downright catastrophic it intensifies the pain. This keeps so many people from even trying and it’s sad.
Yes, when you take bold action there is always the risk that things won’t work out – but if you don’t try you’ll never know. If you want to write, or make movies, or paint, or whatever…what are you waiting for? Do it, take action now, and put your work out into the world.