RELATIONSHIP INVOLVES RISK
Rejection is one of the worst experiences imaginable. We hide in the safety of familiarity to avoid rejection. There are so many opportunities we would love to pursue, but we don't for fear of failure. We cling to safety. If we only knew what we were missing by staying safe, we would take so many more risks.
I grew up playing it safe. I was taught to plan and consider the possible negative outcomes. Risky situations were to be avoided. "You can't be too careful," was my mantra.
By the time I arrived at college, however, I was sick of playing it safe. I didn't want to be reckless or careless, but I did want to take some risks and try things I'd never considered doing before-things like jumping off a bridge!
Each September, our Campus Ambassadors group would take a canoe trip down the Sacandaga River. On that trip during my freshman year, there were a couple of local teens jumping off a bridge as we pulled our canoes out of the water.
It looked like a blast to me, but no one else from our group wanted to try it. We got in our cars and drove back to campus. I now had a new goal-next year I was going to jump off that bridge!
The next year's canoe trip was just weeks after Erv and I met. We spent three hours as canoe partners-chatting, singing, and cracking each other up. We pulled our canoes out of the water and I excitedly headed for the bridge. No one wanted to go with me.
When I climbed to the top of the bridge, Erv got all serious. "You're really going to jump off that? How do you know it's safe?"
"I saw a bunch of people do it last year. It'll be fine."
"Do you know how deep it is?" Erv inquired.
"Nope. I'm sure it's fine," I yelled from the top of the bridge.
"You're crazy. I'm gonna check it first." Erv waded into the water and swam down to the bottom, far below me.
When he popped up out of the water he said, "Seems like it's at least ten to twelve feet deep. You're about 30 feet up there. You should be okay."
"So are you coming?" I asked, sitting with my feet dangling over the edge.
There was a long pause. Erv slowly made his way out of the water and up to the top of the bridge beside me. "You sure you want to do this?" he asked.
"Yep!" I stood up.
Erv eventually stood beside me. "On three...
We both counted loudly to three and jumped! As my feet left the bridge, I felt a strong sense of irreversibility. We hung in the air for what felt like an eternity. I kept waiting and waiting for my feet to hit the water. Together we made an incredible splash!
As we swam to shore, others from our group started climbing the bridge. Some jumped. Others turned back in fear. Erv and I celebrated! We had taken a risk and it was worth it.
Taking risks is scary.
When we share how we honestly feel about someone, it is one of the greatest risks of all time. Our minds race considering the possibilities. What if the other person doesn't feel the same way? What if they want nothing to do with us anymore? What if there is no turning back and we ruin our friendship forever?
Romantic relationships never start without a degree of risk.
After being hassled by my girlfriends for months, I allowed myself to take a risk and initiate a "define the relationship" conversation with Erv. I sat nervously on his dorm room floor while he sat on his bed, caught completely off guard by the topic. He wasted no time making it clear that he didn't have any romantic feelings for me. In fact, he told me point blank, "I will never date you, so you can get that idea out of your head."
He was pretty clear. I put the idea out of my head. Or at least I tried to.
Most of us have a list of the qualities we are looking for in a partner. There are particular physical attributes and personality characteristics that we fi