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Tag Archives: risk averse

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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