In college I took an acting class. Just one. I wasn’t much of an actress, and I was terribly overwhelmed and shy—a conservative misfit at a liberal Big 10 university.
One week, the instructor said we had to take a risk and then return to class and report on it.
My self-imposed risk was to introduce myself to someone sitting next to me in one of the giant lecture halls. Normally, I slid into my seat, endured the lecture in order to take notes, and slipped out as quickly as possible without talking to a soul. On the day of my risk, with heart pounding and face flushing red, I managed to introduce myself to a stranger. The girl said hi, turned around and left. Nothing more happened, but I did it.
In the next acting class, before I could share my quiet success, a guy piped up and announced that for his risk, he left his apartment, drove from one side of campus to the other, got out of the car and walked up to the door of a friend’s apartment…naked.
You can imagine how lame my story sounded, following that.
But I did learn a memorable lesson: risk is relative
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Note: This story first appeared in the comments at Amy Sullivan’s place when I responded to her post, then she highlighted it alongside other stories that people shared.
I’ve learned this lesson on a number of occasions. None of them naked;) My risks often feel so small in comparison to others, but as you say, it’s all relative.
Well, as you can see *I * certainly wasn’t the naked one in this story (though, speaking to a complete stranger felt like I was exposing my soul or something)!
And um, I think a girl who picks up and moves overseas and back again? Risky.
Diana Trautwein says
I loved this when I first read it, Ann, and copied and pasted it into one of my voluminous ‘memorable quotes’ documents! Glad you put it up here, too.
Diana, I’m so glad. And be careful what you leave in people’s comments…it might find its way to the front page of someone’s blog!
Hazel Moon says
My shyness extended into High School, and I wanted an A in Geometry, but my teacher informed the class that she only gave A’s to those who would raise their hands and explain the answer to the problem we had that day. I did my best, but not good enough and she gave me a B+. I called her to my desk and outright told her that I deserved an A and she was wrong to give me less. For me that was risky. I don’t think anyone else complained, but I flustered her a bit. She told me to speak up more which I did and finally she relented and gave me my A.
I have outgrown my shyness, and I am not afraid to speak out, sometimes my speech is not so welcome. But anyway, what needs to be said gets said.
Good for you! And I think that does a great job illustrating another kind of courage–to speak up for what you felt was unjust. Do you think that was a turning point for you? You say you’ve outgrown your shyness, but I wonder if that and moments like that actually emboldened you?