21 and a Suitcase

alison says take risks

(image source: www.islandoutpost.com)

When I was 20, I went to Jamaica on spring break and went cliff diving. I remember standing on the edge and I couldn’t quite see where I was going to land. I moved even further out, to the point of almost losing my balance forward, and I thought, ‘Am I really going to do this? Am I someone that jumps off cliffs?’ As the rest of the group started counting down ‘3, 2, 1,’ I smiled to myself…because I am someone who jumps off cliffs.

And I jumped.


We all know people that we think of as daring and fearless. Maybe they have tattoos, backpack around foreign lands or always roll in with a story. They’re risk takers. They make our lives full of k-cups, calendar reminders and commutes seem little and quiet.

21 and Suitcase

When my mom was 21, she packed a suitcase and left her home in Limerick for Boston.  I don’t think my mom considers herself a risk taker. When I ask her questions about leaving home, she remembers what a big move it was for her. There was no virtual tour of where she was headed; she couldn’t sort her options by how many stars they’d received. She just had to show up and find out if the risk was worth it.

My mom thinks I’m brave because I’m not afraid to say what I think or I’m the first one up the ladder to swing from a trapeze. Here’s the catch: it’s all relative. Risk does not have to involve jumping out of a plane; it could be throwing out an idea at a meeting, committing to education that could change your career or making a life for yourself in a new place.

The point is this – don’t put yourself in the “boring” bucket because you have a fear of heights or you like to go to bed early. The biggest risk you may ever take is listening to your gut, even when people you trust are telling you otherwise. We all have opportunities to take a chance; we just have to answer ‘Yes’ when we ask ourselves if we’re ready to change.
In the words of the great Van Halen, ‘Go ‘head and jump!


Alison and MomMy mom used to erase my homework and make me do it again if it was sloppy. I remember one time I didn’t erase it well, and when I redid it, my mom made me erase it properly and do it a third time. I am certain that I didn’t get her point. She took her risks to push towards her best self and subsequently, she always wanted me to push myself, too. Eventually, I understood why she was tough on me; I started agreeing with her, trying harder and expecting more from myself.
I also started doing my homework in pen.


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