Grace loves to write commentaries on psycho-cultural and sociocultural dynamics in their myriad forms.
YOU are Either FEARLESS or FEARFUL, Which ONE are YOU
There are those who are risk takers, approaching life as if it was one tremendous and glorious adventure. Then there are others who simply prefer to play it safe, staying within their particular comfort zone. There are many factors which preclude people to be either risk takers or being safe. Some people have characteristics/personalities which predispose them to be either be risk takers or to risk averse. Besides personal characteristics, there are psychocultural and/or sociocultural factors which cause many people to be either risk takers or to play it safe.
Many risk takers were hard wired from birth to be that way. Even as infants and toddlers, they avidly explored and interacted with their immediate and outer environment. Nothing was strange and unknown to these infants and toddlers. If they were told not to do something because it was considered dangerous or harmful, they did it nevertheless just to experience it. They wanted to DO and BE in the moment of things. They were constantly indulging in one risky activity or another whether it was speeding on a tricycle without hands, vigorously finger painting, and/or splashing the walls with watercolor.
As children, risk takers took adventure and/or risk to a new level. To say they were always testing themselves and trying new situations is an understatement. They were indulging in one activity or another, often more so- called dangerous and risky than the other. Danger and the unknown were not in their young vocabularies. They considered it a badge of honor and fierceness to be at a high visceral level. If they fall and get hurt, well that is part of the game. They simply dust themselves and resume their activities.
While some parents encouraged and/or admired some of their risk taking children as being self-starters and aggressive, other parents were aghast that they had daredevils as children. To such parents, children were to be as docile and unobtrusive as possible. They viewed such children as unmanageable or worse. As children, risk takers refuse to understand the word NOT and/or NO as these words were not in their consciousness. Even if they were threatened with punishment for indulging in more dangerous activities, they viewed this punishment only as an incentive.
As adolescents, risk taking people were the ones who tried new things and sought out new adventures. They were not ones to accept things as usual. They questioned the rules of their parents and/or other adult figures. They also questioned the rules of their peer group. They did not believe in following something because it was acceptable, fashionable, and/or done by the majority of people.
They felt that being followers were the total antitheses of being risk takers. Risk takers invent and establish their own individual and unique paths. They often carved their own niche/brand. Many became leaders because of their refusal to play it safe or follow the majority and/or most popular construct of their particular circle and/or family.
This adventurousness and fierce individuality from the risk takers' formative years followed them into adulthood. They refuse to simply meander through life or adopt a perfunctory attitude towards life. They are in it full throttle. They see life as a series of both positives and negatives. They are highly cognizant of the fact that one must accept the negatives with the positives. They see negatives as growth and learning opportunities, not as deterrents.
In fact, they strongly maintain that without the negatives, there is no appreciation for the positive aspects of life. They know that both components often coexist together. They insist that there is no negative without a positive and vice versa. They further contend that both components are also relative depending upon how one views his/her life situation and/or circumstances.
Risk takers see life as fun and a game. They apply this philosophy of life equally to work and play. They believe in the game of life, one wins and one loses. So what! In work, they know that risks are often necessary in order to succeed. They strongly contend that one never ever succeeds by playing it safe. They see nothing wrong in taking one or two steps backwards, even taking a lateral position, in order to obtain a coveted promotion. They are also not loathe to take extra assignments or to relocate in order to do likewise. They also do not see being terminated and/or downsized as the end of their career and/or job opportunities. In fact, they often see as the beginning of new job opportunities and/or a totally different career venture.
Risk takers love the exciting and new. These give them opportunities to grow and evolve as people. They are either learning and/or trying something new, whether an unheard cuisine, traveling to new places, and/or learning a difficult language. They believe that life always present new opportunities and THEY intend to take ample advantage of them. .
The worst thing in the lives of risk takers is sameness, safety, and familiarity. These things are akin to psychological death for risk takers. They believe that a safe life is not one worth living. The idea of any type of security is a total anathema to risk takers. They see security is a relative word. In other words, security is a human construct, depending who runs the show. The only security they believe in is inner security.
Risk takers believe that most people lead secure, safe, and familiar lives. To put it succinctly, THAT is not their scene. They contend that exploring the new and unfamiliar gives them a visceral high and makes life totally worthwhile. They also view security, safety, and familiarity as vices to be avoided at all costs. They assert that such components are the ultimate in boredom as well as a living and psychological death. Their viewpoint is that life is not worth living if one elect to live a safe existence. To them, there is something quite stifling about safety. Why would anyone prefer to be in the safe/familiar where so much can be learned if one only venture into the new and unknown.
That being said, risk takers are not afraid of change. In fact, they welcome and embrace it. They see change as an integral part of life. They believe that if one does not change, he/she will stagnate and atrophy in more ways than one. They are also not passive receptacles to change, they actively engage it. They are the ones who are constantly reinventing themselves. To them, life as ever-changing. They believe that every one of us changes,whether it is voluntary or by chances and/or circumstances.
While some risk taker have innate characteristics/ personalities that would categorize them as such, there are others who are risk takers based upon outside factors whether it is psychosocial and/or sociocultural. There are people who previously led safe and/or unobtrusive lives which left them feeling as if they were missing something in their lives. They felt that they were not where they wanted to be in their respective lives. This examination and/or introspection result in they becoming more proactive and taking risks in order to improve their lives. They are making a conscious choice to face life head on, being fully alive instead of just merely living.
Others grow up and/or live in environments or in situations where risk taking is an everyday part of life, even mere survival. Even if they are not innately risk takers, they had to be in order to survive and/or to be adulated. They observe that the more respected and/or adulated members of their particular environment are the ones who are risk takers. If they did not adopt risk taking behaviors and/or strategies, they would be disrespected or worse in their particular environment.
Then there are those who simply prefer to play it safe. Some are hard wired that way. These infants and toddlers were afraid to venture into unfamiliar environments. Once they were comfortable and/or familiarized with their respective environments, they became quite entrenched. Yes, they explored their environment but within limits. They instinctively knew not go beyond what they considered to be unknown. They were often hesitant about trying new things, surroundings, and/or meeting new people.
One can see that they were cautious children. Because they were more security conscious and quite comfortable with what it known and familiar, they had to be talked into making new friends and trying new things. They were not about to try anything considered risky or unknown as they would get hurt either physically or emotionally. These were the children who were afraid to climb a steep hill or to ice skate without holding unto a rail or desperately holding on to someone. These are not the children who would get into mischief. They are just the opposite, they were content to indulge in a less risk hobby and activity.
They were considered by others, particularly adults to be well-behaved and manageable.They were the compliant ones who did not believe in making waves, doing as they were told. Many parents were happy with such children as they gave parents "no trouble" and were considered to be the ideal children. Some of such children could be considered as wise beyond their years while others can be considered to be quite immature, just being inordinately fearful of their environment.
As adolescents, they could be described as cautious and prudent. They were not about to indulge in behaviors and actions for their own sake. They believe that one undertakes something, it should be for a beneficially productive and workable cause. They often see all angles and sides before undertaking any activity. Foolhardiness is not in their vocabularies. They were the type of adolescents who contend that when one rushes and/or does something without considerations the factors, variables, and/or consequences involved, he/she oftentimes pays a VERY HIGH price. They were not about to do it. While some may consider them slow, they are just being careful-extremely careful.
Parents and/or other adult figures consider such adolescents to be quite mature and levelheaded. Adolescents who preferred to play it safe would often considered to be good and upstanding examples of what adolescents should be. While some such adolescents fit that description, other adolescents of this prototype were pathologically passive, remaining in their emotional and psychological cocoon. They found it daunting to face the real world as they believed that they did not possess the wherewithal to do so. They saw the outside world as a deep, dark abyss which they avoided at all costs.
Adults who play it safe are happy being in their particular comfort zone and do not intend to venture out of it. They have strong preconceived notions of what life, particularly their lives should be. They are the ones who adhere to a preordained plan, not deviating from it. They believe that there is comfort and/or security in safety. They know what they stand psychologically when they are in areas and arenas which they are familiar with.
The most important thing to these adults is the sense of security that safety and familiarity supplies. They are the most comfortable with what they know. They are quite afraid of what is new, unknown, and generally unfamiliar. What is new and unknown is oftentimes beyond these people's comfort zone. They know how to navigate the familiar; however, once they enter the unfamiliar and unknown, they are in uncharted territory so to speak.
The prospect of doing something new oftentimes unhinges them. They can be very fearful of what they do not know and what they believe to be unsafe. These component also represent uncertainty in their lives. Many people who play it safe equate unfamiliarity and the unknown with uncertainty. If anything, such people want to be sure of what they are doing. They do not believe in leaving life to chance. They want to have a hand on their lives. That is why they plan their lives, often to a "T". Risk is something that they are fearful, being equivalent to what is quite unfamiliar and uncertain.
They contend that life is not a series of risks but a series of plans. They believe that a planned life is a secure one with guarantees. They contend that a planned life protects one against pitfalls and/or other forms of calamities. They believe that one must always look out for rainy days, rather literally or proverbially. They find it totally abhorrent that people would take risks and/or live life totally on the edge. To them, that is not risk but utter and sheer stupidity and immaturity. In addition to that, they view those who live precariously from day to day to be totally bereft of sense and logic.
They believe that life is indeed serious, quite serious. They feel that life should be certain with measures of security. They consider a life without certainty to be quite precarious. They want to led lives with as much certainty and comfort as possible. With certainty and comfort, they are free from worries. They feel that without measures of certainty, one is never secure. They equate security with ownership and never having to be vulnerable. They do not want to be vulnerable to circumstances and/or to others ever. They further contend that security is everything. In their eyes, it is an assured guarantee and they believe in the art of the sure thing. In their eyes, they would rather be safe than sorry which they NEVER intend to be.
There are people whose life circumstances force them to play it safe. Many people,especially during the Great Depression and currently in the Great Recession, experienced severe economic downturns. They believe that they have lost everything. They had lost every sense of socioeconomic security. Many of them were and/or are in dire straits, some being near homeless. They do not know where their next meal will come from. Some do not know if they will have a place to live tomorrow The first thing on their minds is a job which would guarantee some type of security so they can be free from worry.
There are some people who were victims of crime and they feel quite vulnerable. They become highly wary of people and environments that they do not know or are unfamiliar with. They emotionally and psychologically shut down and close off from others, playing it extremely safe lest they be vulnerable again. Not only victims of crime but many people who undergo a life crisis of one kind or another tend to feel unsafe as they are in unknown areas emotionally and psychologically, often retreating to a psychological safety zone.
In conclusion, there are those who are risk takers and those who prefer to play it safe. There are many factors which influences why people lean to one type or another. Some are innately hard wired from birth to be either risk takers or to play it safe. Others are forced by outside factors to adopt such behaviors either psychologically or as a need for survival. Which type of person are YOU.
© 2013 Grace Marguerite Williams
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on December 28, 2013:
I totally agree with you, Glenn. Thank you for stopping by and for your immensely insightful response.
Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on December 28, 2013:
I found this article of yours very interesting, Grace. I think it's sad that children who do not venture into the unknown are considered well-behaved and compliant. This training tends to make more people fail at achieving great successes in life, in my opinion.
I see this among my friends. I know some people who are extremely intelligent and who I feel can achieve great things. But they hold themselves back and stay in their own little niche, a safe place in their opinion.
I feel bad for these friends because I think they can do so much more for themselves. But now, after reading your article, I understand what caused them to be stuck.
As for me, my father always let me get my hands into things. He allowed me to experiment and find out how things work. I think that early-life attitude had a great reflection on me because in adult life I ended up creating my own business. I realize that was an enormous risk that I had taken.