Risky Business for this Girl born in the Year of the Rat
There is an old Seinfeld television episode where three of the main characters talk about luck and how they consistently have a certain type of luck. One always has great luck, the other always bad and the last always comes out even. Many times, when it has come to luck, I have been even steven. I get a bonus, for instance, right before my accountant tells me I owe a certain amount to the federal government. I owe some, I gain something. Pretty often I come out even in these small tokens of luck. However, all my life, I have had to be a risk taker. Some risks I readily took on, others I took on with trepidation. Luckily, almost always, when I have taken a big risk, I have come out a winner.
Taking big risks does not mean I jump into the decision pool head first. I tend to mull over my decisions for days on end. I make lists upon lists in trying to make big decisions. I am a Taurus after all who was born in the year of the rat which means I am ambitious, meticulous, shrewd and tenacious. I decide to take a risk, make a plan and then fight tooth and nail to make it happen. Occasionally, though, I have surprised myself by going by my gut as opposed to my well-thought out lists on major decisions. When I have gone by my gut, I have usually been right.
This past year I took some big risks yet they didn’t all pan out causing me extreme heartburn and unease. I was left wondering this past year, if my knack for making the right decisions has gone the way of the dodo. Of course, I had so many big risks this past year as I was trying desperately to keep a company a float that I was bound to run out of luck. As I look about me, I realize that indeed “you win some, you lose some” but you cannot win if you don’t take a risk. I was justified in taking the risks. I had to. However, I also take to heart Kenny Roger’s advice “you got to know when to roll them, know when to fold them.” I think my problem this past year was I didn’t know when to fold them. That type of problem I intend to avoid this new year. I still intend to take big risks but I must be attuned to when I need to walk away.
This year will be my ten year anniversary at my current workplace. I have steadily been promoted to where I am now the Vice President. The ladder does not go much higher nor do I think I want it to. As I survived this bit of rough patch this past year, I look back to when I was deciding whether to take the first offered position at this company.
At that time, ten years ago, I was deciding between several job offers. I had managed to narrow my job offers down to two main choices. Each offered me the same salary and each was in a major city that I had lived in before. One offered me the opportunity to work as a part of a research team with similar others; the other offered me a job where I would come in as a director and be on my own in a totally new field. I had to spend a day of research to understand said field. Further, there were no similar others. However, there was the possibility of being mentored by a great civil rights attorney and I really relished the idea of the challenge that the director position offered. Yes, I would be the only PhD but with a vision I could go far-or so it seemed. Being in a group of similar others didn’t quite offer me comfort. In a way it seemed like being a research cog in the machine with highly competitive egos all about. That cog machine workplace had a lot of infrastructure support and fancy, well-lit offices which was great. However, I have not attained my life wins by trying to be with similar others. I grew up with a diverse group of friends, hung out with people that were totally different from me at college and have never taken the easy road. At that point, I decided to go with my gut and take the road less traveled.
Here I am ten years later realizing I that even though the past year has been rough, I did make the right decision ten years ago. It was a risky proposition to be the only one of my “kind” in the workplace and to have to take the helm of something I was not quite sure it was about. However, I have since learned more than I would have at the other place in terms of what research truly means at the community level. I have since understood the actual ramifications of stigma in a way that I would have never experienced from the research cog machine. I have since come into my own, probably more than had I been with similar others. I have since stood above the rest and brought others up with me. It was a big risk that had a big payoff. Risks have dotted my life trajectory. I won’t shy away from them, although I will also not shy away from backing off when it is needed. Sometimes it is considered risky to say no, although, it can be a wise move.
At the end my gut ruled. I picked what had seemed at the time to be an experiment over what looked like a safe environment. In the end it was an experiment. It was an experiment in who I was and who I could be. As Ralph Waldo Emerson noted:
“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
Inspired by the Daily Prompt of: Walking on the Moon