Why I Would Rather Go Skydiving Than Ask A Girl Out

“Dude, you’re totally a risk-taker!” Jay said.

“I don’t think so—I think I’m overly cautious,” came my reply.

Those are two extremes that are difficult to reconcile. About three weeks prior Yamil e-mailed us a personality quiz. We were to e-mail our personal results to the other team members; the intent is that it would help us understand each other better. The site wouldn’t work for me, but I got as far as this question: “Are you cautious, or are you a risk-taker?” (unfortunately ‘cautions risk-taker’ was not an option…)

Anyone who knows me would say I’m a risk-taker—even my parents. So how can those who are closest to me see me as a risk-taker while I, myself, do not? Am I wrong, or are they? The answer is, “I don’t know. That’s why I’m writing this blog.”

Before I take any ‘risk’ I (usually) thoroughly assess the situation, weighing the risk/gain (hospital expense/enjoyment or thrill) and the likelihood I’ll bite it, then I usually go for it.

So in that sense, I’m not too cautious. And on the road, I’m not timid at all…

“If you’re going to drive, then drive—if not, get of the road!”

And I live by that. I don’t drive recklessly (usually), but I don’t hesitate. I see an opportunity and I take it. I see so many people hesitate and that’s when mistakes are made and people get hurt. “Do I have enough time to turn before that car gets here?” As they hesitate, the window of opportunity passes.

So why do these people hesitate? Because they’re afraid of mis-judging and getting hit—they’re afraid of failure. I’m afraid of failure.

I’ve been reading Messages to Young People. Here’s what the author says about the fear of failure.

Many become inefficient by evading responsibilities for fear of failure. Thus they fail of gaining that education which results from experience, and which reading and study and all the advantages otherwise gained cannot give them. – Messages To Young People, p. 193.

In other words, sometimes life requires you to face your fears to move ahead, learning by experience (even the experience of failure). This scares me, here’s why:

The scariest thing for a man is to offer his strength in situations where he doesn’t know if it will make any difference (or be needed.) Or worse, that he will fail. – John & Stasi Eldredge, Captivating

This explains my hesitation—and even gives ground for justification. But let’s read on.

…A man’s basic sin is his choice to offer strength only in those situations where he knows things will go well. And so repentance for a man is entering into the very situations that he fears and offering his strength anyway. – ibid

Have mercy! Talk about getting hit with both barrels! When I read that I feel like one of those little bugs that you see when you pick up a bucket in the yard that hasn’t been moved in weeks, the little ones that go scurrying for cover in a dark little hole—that’s me.

So much for that great adventurer people see. Sure, I go cliff jumping and rock climbing. I’ve soloed 14ers and done some crazy 4x4ing. I’ve biked Slickrock and swam class 3 rapids. But when it comes to the inside—to the possibility of failure or rejection, all that courage amounts to nothing.

I must repent. It’s time I look fear in the face and step forward. I’m sure I’ll experience failure. I’ll probably squirm a lot. I’ll probably regress and need to make this resolution again, but I need to do this—I’m going to do this.