Once, after a bad break-up during my sophomore year of college, I dared myself to go out for everything. Rejection hurts a whole lot less when you actively embrace it. I read lines for a couple plays because I thought it might be fun to be on stage. I auditioned for a prestigious dance group because I have always sort of secretly wanted to dance. I applied to a million and one grants and submitted my writing to multiple magazines. Any chance I could find to be told "yes" or "no" I took. I wracked up rejections (and some delicious acceptances) like it was no big deal. Because it wasn't. I felt liberated, alive, lucky.
I am not always so daring. But remembering moments in my life when I have taken real risks makes me feel empowered to risk again. Because part of the beauty of learning to be daring is recognizing that you already have that energy within you. Consider this primer, then, an exercise in working with what you have.
#1: DON'T OVERTHINK IT
Last summer I moved to Portland. I typed "female-run urban farm" into Google search and applied to work at one of the very first farms I found because I had a lovely e-mail exchange with the owner and I liked the pretty pictures online. My vetting process for an apartment was similarly brief: I found a cheap place in a perfect location, Skyped with the landlady, and paid the deposit within a couple weeks. I didn't overthink it.
Later, I would wonder if I should have put a little more thought into it. Both my work and housing situations were rough. As I sit with my memories more and more however, I am so grateful that I just went for it. Even though those experiences were not perfect. Even though the reality was wildly different than my expectations.
Overthinking can be a kind of paralysis. Our pursuit of the very best often means we do nothing at all. More than anything, overthinking doesn't change the fact that we can never control the outcome. Being daring doesn't mean being reckless. It's about finding a balance between body and mind, between what your heart wants and what your mind thinks.
#2: COMMIT WITH YOUR WHOLE HEART
Have you ever gone sledding down a really steep hill? Maybe you found yourself clenching up, afraid to let go. And it was then that you flipped the sled over. It was then that you got hurt. We are more likely to get bruised when we enter into an experience half-heartedly.
When you commit to something, to someone, with your whole heart, you will never have to wonder "what if?" There is a strange beauty and potent power in knowing you have done everything you can. Because the rest of it? That is not yours to worry about.
#3: DO DARING YOUR WAY
What is daring to you will depend on who you are and what you want. Sometimes, daring is a big gesture. Sometimes, daring is a very small act of kindness.
As women especially, we are likely to skim the surface for fear of confronting a deeper truth we think that we are not ready to accept. I recently talked to a friend of mine about this paradox. She had been given an incredible opportunity to have her written work published and found herself hesitating to put in the hard work to make it happen.
We all do this. We all second-guess ourselves. We all take a little too long to weigh the options. To inject a dose of daring into our lives is one of the only remedies we have to counteract the pervasive culture of self-doubt.
Daring is doing. Daring is surrender. Daring is placing your self-worth where it belongs--in your own open heart and inquisitive mind. And daring is a practice, one you can bring into being this very day.