I have always been a very cautious person. When deciding whether or not to try something new, I tend to carefully analyze the situation, weigh all the potential risks, envision every single thing that could possibly go wrong, and then, more often than not, I chicken out. I usually decide that the risk just isn’t worth it, and decide to stick with the safety of my familiar routine. Luckily for me, I have found the courage to step outside of my comfort zone a few times in my life, and I am so glad that I did.
While I was still in college, I volunteered at a nearby humane society, and although I learned a lot, I also found the experience so stressful that I developed the beginnings of an ulcer. It took me years to decide to try it again, but I finally did shortly after we adopted our beloved dog Sandy from the local humane society. That was thirteen years ago, and although volunteering at a large, open-admission animal shelter can sometimes be very hard, (both physically and emotionally) I’ve stuck with it. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned about dogs, how good it feels to see a dog I’ve worked with get adopted, or how much I’ve grown as a person just from my volunteer experience down there. Although I signed up only because I wanted to help the shelter dogs, I’ve also had the added benefit of becoming close friends with many of the other volunteers. I’m talking about real friends, the kind who stick by you no matter what, who know what you’re thinking before you even say it, and the kind who will let you cry or curse when you need to, and then do their best to cheer you up afterwards. There’s a lot to be said for people who have seen you at your worst but still like you anyway.
I thought about starting this blog for at least two years before I actually did it. I wasn’t afraid of the actual writing, but I was very afraid of sending my writing out into cyberspace where anyone could read it, and even worse, comment on it. As far as I was concerned, no possible good could come from talking to strangers on the internet. I had watched enough true crime shows to know that was an absolute fact.
But a little over a year ago, I did finally start my blog. And thanks to WordPress, I know that it has been read by people in 52 different countries, had almost 5,000 visitors and over 10,000 views. Yes, there is spam, but my spam filter catches most of it and I delete the rest. But I have formed online “friendships” with so many interesting, kind, smart and talented bloggers that now I really regret how long it took me to find the courage to start this blog. I had no idea how much support and encouragement I would encounter from people who only knew me through reading my blog. I don’t care what anyone says, I now believe that there are many, many nice people in this world.
I know I will always be a bit cautious. It’s just part of my personality, and I don’t think I can do anything about that. But I also know that with each step I take out of my comfort zone, taking a risk becomes just a little bit easier. With each risk I take, I expand my horizons a bit more, grow a bit more, and live life just a little bit more fully. And that makes the risk so very worth it.