What Are You Willing to Risk?


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Many studies have been conducted where people, at the end of their lives, are asked what their biggest regrets are. Not taking enough risks is always in the top five. 

Take risks.

It’s one of the first things you learn when becoming an actor. Always take risks and commit to them; never be afraid of failure, trust your instincts and believe in yourself. 

Simple right?

There is a great debate about whether it is in fact art imitating life, or the other way around. It seems either way, they involve many of the same parallels. It takes great courage and character to pursue the best of either. I dreamt of travelling to Prague and Machu Picchu, and walking the Camino de Santiago, but I always knew I would be an artist but I went to school with dreams of being remembered as a damn good actress. 

We never seem to give ourselves enough credit in what we can do or be. 

What are you willing to risk? 

The idea might strike a lot of people with anxiety. How much can you lose? How much can you win? It means something different to everyone. For some it could mean talking to someone attractive, for others it could mean booking a one way ticket to Europe and never coming back. 

I remember the first time I planned to leave home, like when I decided to become an actor, my parents couldn’t understand. It was another great risk of everything going wrong. Except the only risk I could see was if I didn’t go then, I might never go at all. And that was a risk I wasn’t willing to take. In a way, you could say becoming an actor has prepared me how to experience the human condition. Visiting different countries and cultures is it put into practice. 

Why do you travel? Why would you go there? Isn’t that dangerous? Aren’t you scared you’ll get raped or robbed or kidnapped? Who travels alone? Don’t you have friends? How are you able to travel so much?

Chances are, if you’re a woman, no matter who you are, you will run into questions like this almost any time you bring up leaving home. After a while, it becomes exhausting. It’s almost like as soon as we take initiative in our own lives we are met with constant resistance. However, there is great satisfaction in surpassing what people believe you can accomplish. 

If we are meant to stay in one corner of the earth for the rest of our lives, the world wouldn’t be such a diverse and vibrant place. I may not know who I am yet… but I am a lot closer to figuring that out now than I was even a year ago and I feel I the places I have been have played a paramount role in the making of who I am today. I’ve been humbled and learned lessons in ways that you only hear about in movies. You learn quickly how people with the least give the most, and how you must trust in the kindness of strangers or risk never meeting the most enchanting person of your life. 

I believe it is crucial to travel, by yourself, at least once before the age of thirty. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. When you travel by yourself you discover things you might never have learned because you are the only one you need to consult. There should be nothing radical about a woman travelling by herself. I started travelling alone when I was 22 years old. 

There is nothing like going to Morocco and realizing you know nothing about Africa. Or walking for hours on the highway, in the hot Italian sun in the middle of July, and getting into the first car that stops for you to appreciate the kindness of strangers.  Having your passport and phone stolen in Guatemala, and then having someone find it and return it to keep you humble and realize that you must never lose faith in the human race. We are here to help each other, to share the most beautiful parts about ourselves. From our food, to our music and artwork, our stories and clothing… we are species endowed with divine talents and if we can lose our fear of being rejected, overpowered or outsmarted, we can begin to actually connect. And isn’t connection all anyone really ever wants? Whether it’s with a person, an art form, sport, or a dog… 

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”- Ibn Battbuta

 You find yourself in situations that you never believed you could handle. You’ll have good days and bad days, and days that make you cry. There will be questions you won’t want to ask yourself and ugly discoveries about who you might be, but we learn far more from our mistakes than our successes, I should know, I’m an artist. My life is woven together by experiences of rejection, disbelief and utter, divine magic, without all those little failures and mistakes, it wouldn’t be half as compelling. 

Travelling opens our minds to new ways of thinking, it expands the parameters of how we relate to each other and allows us to truly understand compassion and empathy. It makes us better people because we realise that we are not the only ones out there. It helps us see what really matters and hopefully helps enlighten us to believe there is beauty within ourselves. 

“With brains in your head and feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose.”- Dr. Suess

It is important to remember that just because you are a woman doesn’t mean you can’t do things that men do. Yes, of course there are risks but, chances are you experience those in the comfort of your own city. It is important that we form our own decisions through our own authentic experiences, not just what we hear from other people and the media. You never know until you actually go, and a lot of the time the things we are most scared of are the most worthwhile. Do not let the fear of failure stop you from taking the risk. 

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” — Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh.

Heather McNiece

Heather McNiece

Heather McNiece is a travelling artist; a transient in search of truth, beauty, freedom and "above all things" love. From her first solo trip to Europe, a love and appetite for adventure and the unknown was born. It is a personal goal of her's to visit thirty countries before her thirtieth birthday. In the few years she has been travelling and coming into her own as a human being, she has learned that there are few things more exhilarating as the final bow of a sold out show, or the first time you set foot in a new country.

One Response

  1. What a great article! I have some regrets about not traveling when I was young and single because I had no one to travel because my friends either 1) had no money, or 2) couldn’t take time off from a job. I never had the confidence to travel alone. Thankfully my daughter is a world traveler and has visited several countries by herself.

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