when a risk doesn't pay off

Today I took a risk. I gave someone important to me a choice where one of the options, the one I was hoping he wouldn’t choose, would mean the end to some of the most fun few weeks I’ve had in a while. And yet, even while knowing there was a 50/50 chance of getting hurt, I still chose to put everything on the table. In the end, he picked what part of me had been starting to expect, but the other part of me was very much hoping would not come to fruition. The risk didn’t pay off — but that doesn’t mean I regret it. 

This was not a decision I took lightly. Over the course of a month, I oscillated between thinking about having this conversation of exclusivity and enjoying things day by day, until one moment I knew taking the risk of — essentially — being honest was something I needed to do for myself. I had to weigh day by day pleasure with long-term happiness. Sometimes it’s easy to let the former cloud the latter, especially when your judgment is tinged with fear (like the fear of pain, or of being alone). But I forced myself to look at things logically. While the initial consideration may have been catalyzed by my gut desires, the final decision to take this risk, to bring up what I knew there was no going back from, was rooted in logic and self-awareness: at the end of the day, I knew what I wanted and what would make me happy. 

Of course, I am sad (very sad, as it turns out) that this did not pan out how I hoped it would. But I also must acknowledge that I am proud of myself. A year ago, I never would have done this because the fear of being hurt would have outweighed my desire to assert what I knew I wanted. I would have completely skipped over any kind of logic and chosen instant gratification, clinging onto the decaying hope that eventually I could convince him. A year ago, I would have let resentment build and build, slowly eroding all the fun until there was nothing left. And that is why I took a risk and put it all out on the table. I knew deep down, staying in this uncertain situation with no change in sight would chip away at the confidence I have built up over the past four, almost five, months. It is that same confidence that helped me make this decision, in the end. (I should point out, I don’t think you can rush someone else’s timeline, and that was not my intent; rather, I think it’s important to have conversations to see whether there’s any chance you’ll end up on the same page. But that’s a post for another day).

A few hours after we’d said goodbye, I felt the beginning of an anxiety spiral. What if I jumped the gun? What if he could have come to the decision I was hoping for by himself? What if I made a mistake? I texted a good friend in a panic. She answered, almost immediately, and told me not to doubt myself. I did the right thing because I decided, after careful consideration, it was what I needed. And the thing is, the answers to those “what if” questions don’t matter. I chose one path and it is one that diverged from those questions. I can’t go back, and there’s no point wondering what would’ve happened could I. Maybe I did rush into things. But had I not taken this risk today, there’s an equal chance that in another few weeks I’d be asking myself what would’ve happened had I given him this choice. 

If I could change anything, I do wish I could’ve reacted with a bit more grace to his decision. I neither fault him, nor am I angry. We were both being honest. There were some instances where I wish I had bit my tongue, because just as I don’t regret taking the risk of showing my hand, I also don’t regret the circumstances that led up to this — and some of the things I said in haste pointed to a dramatic finality I’m not quite sure I want. But I reacted the way I did because I cared. And while I’ve never been good at hiding my emotions, there is something to be said for being open; at least I know I said what I wanted to say (in addition to just a few things I wish I hadn’t said in a moment of pain; *cue sweat smile emoji*). 

I’m trying to take comfort in the fact that in difficult decisions, there often isn’t a right or wrong answer. I did the best I could, and that’s all anyone does. Now I have to have the personal conviction — the confidence — to stand by this decision. It was not made on a whim. And this confidence is different than the cockiness of not admitting when you are wrong, because it’s a matter of acknowledging and standing up for something you identified as what you needed in that moment. 

I knew what I wanted, and I took a risk to try and make it happen. This time around, it wasn’t in the cards for me. Who knows what will happen in the future — maybe my next great risk will result in everything I hope it will. And maybe it won’t. I don’t believe in fate, and I haven’t in some time but I do believe things happen for a reason (just that these things are not set in stone). So, for now, I know that while my risk didn’t pay off as I had so dearly hoped it would, it did give me a couple things in the end: the reminder that I am strong and the knowledge that in taking this risk, I did what I could, and the ball is no longer in my court. 

Amber Hunter