For as long as I remember, I have been risk averse. I wouldn’t reach out to people if the outcome may not be reasonable, I do not gamble, I don’t invest (except the mandatory 401k), heck I don’t even play video games because of the fact that I may lose the game.
It has been my anxiety, jumping in to protect me. That fight or flight response that our brains are made to fulfill. Except I never fought, I fled. The older I’ve gotten, the less risk I’ve taken. I’ve not taken risks with relationships, I’ve not taken risks with my education. And most recently, I realized that I’ve not even taken risks with work. I pride my self on being very logical, but in this case I have mistaken fear for logic. I know more, but I do less.
Lets talk about work- With work, when I feel failure coming, expecially one that I could have avoided, I shut down and swear that it’s the job’s fault and not mine. I do everything in my power to make sure that a mistake isn’t made. If an error is made- it typically is not my fault (or is it?). Most recently, I took a new job (trust me, I actually whiteboarded and did a pro/cons list of if and when I needed to start searching for a new job, I even did a pro/con list of if I should take the job) and within the 3 month mark, my supervisor would call me out on the simplest things. My anxiety ridden mind didn’t for once think “oh, I’m still new at this job and bound to make mistakes”, it went straight to “I don’t think I can do this job because its not a good fit and I’m failing”.
As a child, my parents were part of some country club and had access to sports teachers in various fields. We were signed up for everything- Swimming, Tennis, Squash, aerobics, I think my younger brother even signed up for Taekwando (he became a brown or yellow belt, I can’t remember). Guess which of these sports I might be decent at. Answer is non. I can’t even swim. At the first sign of not being perfect at it, I abandoned and moved on to other interests i.e. watching movies (you can’t fail at watching movies, especially Nigerian Movies).
My childhood dream was to become a doctor. I was on track to go to nursing school but I failed one semester and I switched majors to the most ridiculous thing (kinesiology) and never looked back. People I know who stuck by and persevered took a long time to eventually get there and I just gave up. I still think about it, I’m still interested in Medical Sciences, but the fear of risking everything again stops me. Also, I’m pretty good at my chosen career (nothing to do with Kinesiology) and I enjoy it, but sometimes I think what-if.
Anxiety is a bitch, as it now affects my relationships as a grown up. I find it very difficult to apologize, because I feel if I do, I may be rejected. I also find it hard to date, back to my fear of rejection. I find it hard to fall in love- because men are scum and dating men is a risk on it’s own- the risk of heartbreak. The fear of the unknown has taken over my life, and it continues to spread it’s vines. Sometimes I’ve taken risks- after drinking- which is a very very terrible thing, sometimes I take a leap of faith- after calculating all the scenarios in my head. I’ve also seen that I’ve not watched certain movies or TV shows because of anxiety.
Somehow in all of this, the only area of my life I take risks is when I’m shopping. I make really short pro/cons in my head with finances and how the clothes may look, where I’ll wear an outfit to and what not, but I’ll shop. I wonder why. On the other hand, one of my greatest fears is never falling in love or experiencing romantic love. The fear of my love not being reciprocated or disrespected scares the shit out of me.