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Risk Averse

2 Sep
Burning of the Witches Festival, Prague, 2007

Burning of the Witches Festival, Prague, 2007

About two weeks ago, I had dinner with a friend of mine who has a knack for popping in and out of my life. We fomented our friendship in Prague and for a while when I was new to New York, he was living in Brooklyn.

I admire him a lot. He can lean towards the hipster side of things, but he leads a life that I envy in a lot of ways. After college, he cultivated his bartending skills. He spends a couple of months in one place, living a meager existence while squirreling away as much money as possible, working at as many bars that will take him. Then he heads somewhere new to him with one tiny backpack and wanders wherever he wants to go, until he has barely enough money to fly him back to the states where he can crash on someone’s couch until he finds a bartending gig that will start the cycle over again.

During desperate times in my life, I’ve thought of his travels and adventures and thought that’s exactly what I should do. But for better or worse, I like my things. I like my life. I like the friendships that I’ve established and the career (however humble it may be) that I’ve built. So I stay. I settle for the vacations here and there and go about my daily routine.

Back to our dinner. We went to a Himalayan restaurant near my apartment, and we caught up. I heard about his upcoming travel plans which include train hopping and road tripping across the country and then booking a flight for Southeast Asia where he’ll ramble at will. I asked him for Central American travel advice. I want to go to Costa Rica, or Nicaragua, or Ecuador. Anywhere new! But I can’t find a travel companion, and I’m nervous about going alone.

“Well, that’s because you are risk averse,” he told me.
“RISK AVERSE!? That’s not true.”
“It’s absolutely true.”
“I took a boxing class today for the first time!”
“That’s spontaneous, not risky. You’re spontaneous and brave. But you are risk averse.”

I spent the rest of the night making him regret he ever said that. I somehow found a way to repeatedly circle the conversation back to “risk averse” and how I could not be risk averse, what are the steps I could take. He couldn’t give me a real answer on it and resorted to teasing me for trying to plan out how to be less “risk averse.” They Type A in me just can’t hide.

Risk averse. I have spent the last two weeks walking around thinking about that. It pops up in my head like a catchy pop song. I’ll be buying a salad for lunch and as I order, I think, “risk averse?!” Part of me wants to say I’m not. I’ve taken risks, tis true. Staying in New York after a devastating break-up. Risky. Battling evil cats at work. Risky. Drinking whiskey after beer. Risky.

But another part of me wants to be mature enough to take it as constructive criticism. I tried to think about how he must see my life and my choices. While I know he respects them, they could seem risk averse. Some of them are. I see the choices in my life that have been the easiest path or the path of least risk of pain. And while I don’t believe that I am one to be labeled as risk averse, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that he got that annoying phrase stuck in my head. My life could use a few more risks, a few more hasty decisions.

He left for Chicago yesterday morning. I have no idea when our paths will cross again. But when they do, I can’t wait to enumerate to him the ways in which my life in the interim has NOT been risk averse. Knowing me, I’ll probably have an outline.

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4 Responses to “Risk Averse”

  1. Kayla September 11, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    I think you bring up a really interesting concept here. I don’t think there can be a set standard to being “risk averse.” It’s very subjective. You may live a very risky life compared to other people. Living in Queens could be as risky as some people can get.

    And I think it’s funny that you associate “risk averse” with a negative quality. Isn’t that what biologists claims we are looking for subconsciously in partners? Someone stable. Not prone to taking extreme risks. Able to be covered by health insurance.

    But what about the risks your friend doesn’t take that you do? I think making yourself vulnerable in this blog is very risky. Making relationships and allowing yourself to open up to people is risky. Allowing your heart to be broken is risky. Trying to establish yourself as an adult in arguably the most challenging city in the world is risky. These are things that your “non-risk averse” friend doesn’t do.

    I suppose it’s all dependent on your values and how you look at life. You should be proud of the risks that you do take. There’s always someone out there playing it a little safer than you 🙂

    • Chrissy September 11, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

      I definitely agree. I think sometimes it is even risky to settle down and invest in building a life. I think you and I both lead pretty risky lives in a lot of ways, haha!

      • Kayla September 11, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

        Haha agreed. I’m exhausted from all this riskiness.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 29 Before 29 | Chrissy's Blog - September 16, 2014

    […] Visit a new country- Due to my supposed risk averse nature, I was unable to travel last year. But this year my goal is somewhere in Central America. I […]

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