Have you engaged in any “risky” behavior lately?  When you enter “risky” into a Google search it is defined as “full of the possibility of danger, failure, or loss” but as a strong and young woman starting my career, I am willing to redefine what risky means to me in order to grow both personally and professionally.
I recently read that men are more likely to take risks than women. It made me think, that means that women are more likely than men to miss out on opportunities for professional and personal growth! After reading that article, I spent a lot of time thinking about why women are less likely to take risks than men; if risks are defined as being filled with danger, failure and loss then why are men not afraid to take risks? I thought that it must be due to fear of failure, rejection and judgment and that is when I decided that I needed to redefine what it means to engage in risky behavior.
For me, engaging in risky behavior means that I have thoughtfully and carefully made a decision to be proactive in achieving my goals in my personal and professional life. I understand engaging in risky behavior as critical in actualizing my potential in all aspects of my life without fear of failure, rejection and judgment. My decision to engage in risky behaviors means that I refuse to be defined by my failures or rejections, and certainly not by what others think of me! Rather, I choose to be defined my ability to make decisions that passionately, compassionately and actively create the life that I want to lead.
During the first year at my social work field placement, I was placed at a women’s correctional facility working with individuals who were survivors of childhood and adulthood abuse. During one of our morning team meetings, we discussed a client who had experienced childhood trauma and was difficult to engage in treatment with multiple failed interventions. Even though I was the youngest and least experienced counselor at the meeting, I took a risk and spoke up in order to offer some suggestions of interventions and ways to engage the client. Based on my enthusiasm and willingness to speak up in the team meeting, my supervisor assigned the client to my case load and I began implementing the interventions with great success! My ability to overcome my fears of failure, rejection and judgment offered me an opportunity to build my confidence as a counselor.
By choosing to engage in “risky” behavior, there is always the possibility that it may not turn out the way you had imagined or hoped for; but rather than getting stuck in the fear, redefine it as an opportunity to learn, survive and persevere. Whether you are asking for that raise you desperately deserve, talking to a stranger in the grocery line or going skydiving with your best friend, it is up to YOU to step outside of your comfort zone and engage in “risky” behavior!
What kind of “risky” behavior are you going to engage in today?

Kaitlin was a SWSG mentor and Chapter Director from 2007-2011 at Simmons College. She is a recent graduate of NYU Silver School of Social Work, and currently lives in Connecticut where she works as a counselor at a substance abuse program for women.