He Who Risks Is Free

My mum is my number one fan. She always tells me how smart I am. And how talented. And how beautiful. I can do no wrong. I am basically perfect. An angel. Oh, and did I mention that everything, always looks fabulous on me all the time? So when she started telling me that I should become a writer, I could not help but laugh. Aha. Here we go again.

You see I am new to the world of writing. In fact, my first article was recently published on the Huffington Post (to read it search #isthepictureworththeprice). I felt elated, and all the positive feedback, encouraging. Yet despite all the excitement, there was still that subtle, underlying voice telling me, “it was just a fluke.” Unbeknownst and unaware, that pesky monster of fear had managed to creep its way inside my heart.

I was chatting to my mum last night, mulling over my latest hesitations. I was explaining how terrifying it is to begin writing in a world with so many high caliber writers.

I am not sure where this feeling was coming from. Maybe I was feeling intimidated, after checking out countless blogs from world-renowned bloggers? Maybe I was feeling vulnerable because it was all so new? Yet, wherever it was coming from, I knew I had to conquer it.

“Chaya”, she said, “Whatever you think and feel is important to write about, write! In fact why don’t you start with writing about your fears and insecurities of writing?”

Her words resonated somewhere deep inside of me. They empowered me.

As our conversation ensued, my perspective evolved. My mother’s words helped me realize that writing is like any other hobby. Like everything in life, you have to start somewhere. Everyone in the world is working hard to achieve the goals they have set for themselves. A road is required to arrive at your destination. Thus, the journey, in itself, is an integral part of the process.

One of my favorite childhood movies was “A Cinderella Story.” I will never forget the quote that is plastered on the wall of the cafe Cinderella works at. “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” I have carried this quote with me since I was twelve, and it continues to inspire me.

Facing our fears head on is petrifying. In fact, many people are so scared of failure; they will not even attempt to try something new. Trust me, I get it. Sometimes failing at something can feel worse than starting it in the first place. Yet if we do not risk failure, we will certainly never succeed.

On the wall of my kitchen at home in Australia stands a proud little frame with a poem inside of it. My father discovered it when he was travelling the world at 18, and never let it go. The author of the poem, titled “Only a person who risks is free” is unknown, and it has been there for as long as I can remember. Every morning as I would place my cereal bowl in the sink, the poem would stare right back at me. The “Risk” poem is famous in my house. In fact, I know it off by heart, word for word.

“To love is to risk not being loved in return. To live is to risk dying. To believe is to risk despair. To try is to risk failure. But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love live. Chained by their attitudes they are slaves; they have forfeited their freedom. Only a person who risks is free.”

This poem is my personal constant reminder that though “to try is to risk failure”; failure is only a way to risk success.

At least, we owe ourselves, the chance to succeed.

About the Author
Chaya is 26-years-old and the oldest of four children. She is originally from Melbourne, Australia, and currently living in Chicago where her husband is completing his Internal Medicine residency training. She holds a Bachelor's in Behavioral Science and a Masters in Special Education. For over 2 years, she has been working for the Aleph Institute, a non-profit that provides physical, emotional and financial support to families as well as those in prison and or in mental institutions. She is particularly passionate about her work with Project Tikvah, a division of the Aleph Institute that focuses on breaking the vicious cycle of struggling youth battling addiction, incarceration, and mental illness.
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