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Patel: Don’t stop taking risks

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Patel: Don’t stop taking risks

Meera Patel, Columnist

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Last January, my sorority did an activity where we rated how happy we were in different aspects of our lives. It included a variety of questions, including how often we laughed and how satisfied we are overall with our lives. At the time that we took this quiz, I got a higher score than all 45 women who took it with me.

Recently, I went back and looked at the quiz again. I got very close to the lowest possible score.

So what changed between last January and now?

I realized my entire perspective on life had shifted. I used to take as many risks as I wanted to and dealt with the consequences if they came. But one day, I just decided to stop taking those risks because they weren’t worth it when they didn’t work out.

You know that rush of adrenaline you get when you do something you’re not supposed to? Or something that has no purpose other than making you laugh? I hadn’t done that in such a long time; I’d started taking life a little too seriously to have fun with it.

I used to be one of those people who took every single risk I could because I got a thrill out of it.

Everyone goes through rough times at some point in their life. It’s easy to start thinking about how every chance you take has gone wrong, and how risks aren’t worth the negative outcomes.

But if you never take a chance, how are you going to figure out what makes you truly happy?

It’s easy to get caught up in what you think is the right thing to do based on what others tell you to do. But you need to think about what’s right for you. You’re only young once; if you don’t do what’s right for you at this moment, no one else will.

You are the only person who can control your actions. Regardless of what people tell you to do, you’re at perfect liberty to do what you want to do, because you know what you need better than anyone else does.

The inherent nature of risk is the chance things won’t work out. But there’s also a chance that they will. I’ve been focused on all the things that have gone wrong from the risks I’ve taken in the past and forgot about all the things that made them worth it.

The chances that we are afraid to take are often the ones that will make us the most happy. As lame as it sounds, you need to do what your gut tells you. If it seems like your gut is telling you a gazillion things, you’re listening to your head and not your gut.

If you’re reading this, go do that thing that you really want to do but are too scared to do. Go talk to that person you really want to, or go try out that activity that you’ve wanted to do but never actually got around to. You may not be completely prepared for the consequences, but you may never be. It’s better to take that chance while you still want to than never taking it at all.

Meera Patel is a McCormick junior. She can be reached at meera@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com.

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