By Brian McKay
Lately I have been wondering if it is time to stop taking risks. I mean, I really like them but hate them at the same time. They are easy to love when they work out. Risks are even easy to love when you break even. We all know they suck when they fail though.
My life seems to have been an almost constant failure at risk taking.
In 2009, a business was closed that had consumed almost $1 million dollars. It started great but a recession was a part of the risk equation and it happened.
Learning poker was a risk. A costly one until it wasn’t. The game can be slow but highly enjoyable when money is on the line and you know what you’re doing. One could say that somethings can be learned well enough to become somewhat non-risky.
After living in a weekly rent room in 2010 and then ending up enduring the hell of working in call center for 5 years, it was once again time for risk in the summer of 2016. Taking over a business and starting another were big risks. They had to be taken as risk takers sure as hell don’t belong working for a bank. A risk taker that also pursues social justice REALLY couldn’t make it working for Wells Fargo Bank. It was exciting to leave and enter the world of risk again. 13 months later, I sit waiting for things to go and wondering when the next paycheck will come.
The risks now include a line of high end patio doors with pet doors built in, a group of websites for SEO articles (they actually earn something), a book on how to replicate the websites, an attempt to get a solar farm going, an Internet real estate system no one else does and the utter stupidity that comes with trying to play the stock options market. As risk taker, you learn that a daily can of soup and some celery is both cheap and provides minimal sustenance. It makes the splurge on a gas station hot dog oh so sweet.
We risk takers have to work a lot. Like, a ton. Days and nights because we create stuff and then have to figure out how to manage it all. There is never just one risk, but many going at once. You start to realize it might be a little much when your memory goes to shit. Waking up at 2am and then thinking for 3 – 4 hours just means you’re still at work.
Risk takers have another problem. We assume the next one will be the big one. Dreams come too easy upfront and efforts to restrain them are hard to come by. No matter how much we might say, “I am being cautious on this one.”, we really aren’t. Our expectations will almost consistently be greater than the outcome.
We might just be the wrong people for relationships. Risk takers can be fun and exciting when things are working and miserable when they’re not. It’s a rollercoaster and not the straight line and picket fences that come with the working folk. It is so bad that I have realized I am unfit for dating until something works. After 7 years single, I even wonder if I care anymore. At times, you wonder if you can even feel for anyone while in the thick of another risk (which is most of the time).
Our bravado can wane with our success, or even our hope for success. If it looks good, watch out. We can be a little overconfident. On the flip side, we can cloister ourselves off for a while. There are people that claim to be risk takers and are always overconfident regardless of the outcome. Those are the people I advise never trusting.
To say some of us are mentally ill might be correct. Finding out I was bi-polar several years ago seemed to explain a lot. It isn’t a secret that many who create things or take big risks have been found to suffer depression. Sitting and playing video games after another day at the office might be safer but it might also even make us more depressed than failing again.
Add in that we can’t be employed. A psychologist once looked at me and said, “Brian, no one wants to hire you. They can just look at you and know you’re trouble.” This is why CEO’s aren’t risk takers. Someone once hired them.
Picking ourselves up can come pretty quickly. Rebounding is only as far away as the next idea and more overly optimistic thoughts. We once again see ourselves providing a wonderful life for those we love. The win will surely happen this time with all we have learned.
One functional thing is that real risk takers own their failures. People that don’t own their failures would best be described at sketchy. Those people weren’t really taking a risk anyway. Someone that can’t own their failures was just pretending to be a risk taker and probably screwed some people in the process.
Health is often not a priority. Ever hear about the Google guys dropping out of college, sitting in a small office for 20 hours a day and subsisting on Coke and pizza? Yep. They aren’t the only ones. The gym is put off until the win happens.
Finally, risk takers are over idolized in America. Most of us fail. Failed things do not advance the world. Risk takers are also often confused with the wrong people. The blue collar embraces the ideal that anyone can make it in America without realizing that Trump was never a risk taker. That guy never lived on Top Ramen. He never skipped lunch so he could by a Facebook ad. Most importantly, he never owned his mistakes.
So, it’s becoming harder as I get older. You start to wonder what it would be like to be normal and settled. Am I a complete moron for being in my 40’s and still not having a retirement account? You start to think that you’re tired. Life is short and meant to be enjoyed. A functional relationship might be nice too. Irritable bowel syndrome isn’t fun either. Coffee and alcohol were never meant to be life staples.
Is it time to quit it? I really want to.
The only problem is that I just can’t.
A toast to my unhealthy, messed up and crazy brothers and sisters.