Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Would You Ever...Do Something Really Scary?

Now, I'm not necessarily talking something death-defying, like jumping out of an airplane or single-handedly chasing down a mugger. But we all have moments in our lives when we can choose to take the risk... or stay safe at home. When I look back, I think I've taken those risks all my life. (Though at the time they didn't seem all that risky.) You be the judge...

My First Scary Thing

When I was five years old my family lived in Montreal, Canada. I rode the bus to school every day--my mom walked me to the bus stop every morning and met me there every afternoon. One day, I got on the bus, she said, "I'll see you after school." Somehow, I thought that meant my dentist appointment was that day and she would be picking me up at school. When school got out, I told the bus driver my mom was picking me up and, after much cajoling, he left without me. My mom, of course, never showed up. (My appointment was the next day.) After waiting a while I decided (at five years old, mind you) that I needed to walk home. Several miles away. Across the busiest intersection in Montreal. Finally, as it started to rain, I asked a young woman at a bus stop how far it was to my street. When she realized how far from home I was, she took me home with her and called my parents. Needless to say, I do not recommend taking this kind of risk--if for no other reason than it makes your parents a little overprotective for then next twenty-five years.

Other Scary Things
  1. When I was 17, I graduated high school in Springfield, Missouri (about as Midwest-ville as you can get) and started college in New York City. I met amazing people for other cultures and countries and realized just how broad the spectrum of the world really is.
  2. Halfway through my sophomore year at said college, I decided to give up my Ivy League education and transfer to the University of Colorado. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. I grew more emotionally and socially as a person in Colorado than at any other time in my life.
  3. For my graduate program (at the same aforementioned NYC university) we had to do a summer internship. The one I landed was being site manager for an historic dude ranch in Rocky Mountain National Park. My housing was an on-site cabin that had been built in the 50s. It had electricity and hot water, but no phone and my cell service was spotty at best. There was one other couple in another cabin, but other than that the nearest people were at the visitor's center ten miles away. It was just me, 1" of June snowfall, a Hanta-virus toting mouse population, and a valley full of elk and moose. You learn a lot about yourself in that kind of solitude.
  4. During that graduate program, my thesis adviser said something that changed my life forever. "Tera," he said, "you are a very effective writer." I'm sure he meant in the academic writing world kind of way, but those words gave me the courage to believe that writing really could be my (forgive the dramatics) destiny. From that tiny seed of courage, I set about learning as much as I could about the writing profession and industry and, eventually, sent my stuff out. I think letting others read something as personal and emotional as your writing is a huge risk--but oh so worth it.
The Next Scary Thing

At the end of the summer I'm moving back to my beloved Colorado. That's it, that's the extent of my plan. I have no day job lined up, no close friends or family in the area, I haven't even decided where exactly I'm going to settle down. But I know that Colorado is my home--a place of inspirational beauty--and that writing is my path. So, I'm jumping in there, with every desperate intention of making writing my full time life. It may be a little bumpy along the way... but I bet it's worth it in the end.

So, question of the day is: What scary things have you done? And did the rewards outweigh the fear?

Growing Up Godly, Summer 2008
Dutton Children's Books

what I'm reading ... Two For the Dough by Janet Evanovich (yes, still!)


TinaFerraro said...

I loved reading these snippets of your life, and the risks that you took!

Yes, I've done my fair share of scary things--driving all night alone in the desert; going to a U. on the other side of the country; traveling to London alone TWICE, even though I didn't know anyone there, just because opportunity struck; turning down my first book offer because the required changes conflicted with my vision.

Usually, for me, the fear doesn't strike until a a WHAT did I DO moment.

Best of luck to you in your next big adventure to Colorado! I know you'll find your wings and fly...

LindaBudz said...

Wow, good luck with your move! I did a lot more of that type of things in my early twenties ... which has been a while, I'm afraid! But you've inspired me to think about how I can shake things up a little! Thanks!

stephhale said...

We were probably in Boulder at the same time. I lived there from 1993-1995. Small world, huh? My dad still lives there so I'll be able to visit you! :)
Probably the scariest thing I ever did was trust a guy enough to marry him! It was the best thing I ever did.

Marley Gibson said...

TLC...what happened to Boston?!?!

Loved the post! Thanks so much for sharing with us.

I'd say the scariest thing I've done is overcome cancer at age 15. Not that I thought it was scary at the time. I just thought, "hey, I'll be in the hospital a few days and then back to my life." Ahhh...youth. It turned into three months, loss of hair and chemo sickness. But I beat it. Looking back, it's extremely scary considering all the tests and circumstances and "what ifs" for my final surgery. It was wicked scary for my parents back then, but the older I get, the more I appreciate the scariness...and the triumph.

Good luck in Colorado! It's soooooo gorgeous there! Go to the top of the Rocky Mountain and shout, just for the fun of it!

Marley = )

Simone Elkeles said...


I can't imagine having cancer at 15 - you dear, poor child! I'm so sorry you had to go through that!


Heather Davis said...

Tera! OMG, thank goodness you found help and made it home after your non-bus adventure in Montreal.

Marley, what an amazing story. I have no idea what overcoming the big C at age 15 must have been like. You are so strong.

As for me, the scariest thing I had to do was move to the city on my own after the break-up. When you're a couple for so long and then it's suddenly you alone -- it's really hard. But, I have come out on the other side stronger, more independent, and, according to my sis and friends, more like the Heather I used to be. Scary can be good. :)