I tend to think a lot about risk. About taking risks, not taking risks, and how, when I do take them (as scary as they often are), my life feels fuller. I feel as though my boundaries are stretching and I’m challenging myself to live bigger and more expansively.
There are huge benefits to taking risks, yet studies show that men and women react to risk differently. Men tend to find it exciting and exhilarating… small wonder they seek it out more often.
Women, on the other hand, can experience feelings of nausea. Huh.
This physiological difference, along with cultural influences often result in women missing out on vital lessons on how to take healthy risks.
Growing up, boys encourage each other to take risks. They cheer for and admire their peers who take risks (regardless of the success rate).
Girls who take risks, on the other hand, risk (yes, girls take a risk when they take a risk) being seen as irresponsible and crazy in the eyes of their peers.
taking risks: we all need it
I recently read an article in National Geographic about the teenage brain that talks about that time in our lives when risk seems to be more the “norm.” Between the ages of 15 and 25, we take far more risks than we do at any other time.
And it’s not because teens are crazy. Or impulsive. Or believe they can’t die. The article talks about how this time in our lives is a huge benefit to our development. Necessary, even.
If teens take more risks, and (if we believe the vast amount of research out there on the subject) teenage boys take more (on average) than girls, does this help give them the confidence as adults to ask for a deserved raise or an overdue promotion? Are girls taking enough risks during their teenage years (and beyond) to help them move up in their chosen careers (or other similar situations)?
Taking risks prepares us for new experiences. It strengthens us for transitions. And it can provide us with the confidence and knowledge that, yes, we can do what we didn’t realize we could.
How do we teach our daughters to take healthy risks more often? How can we—as a community—provide a supportive environment conducive to taking risks for women of all ages?
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