Risk-taking 101

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According to the businessdictionary.com, a risk is defined as, “A probability or threat of damage, injury, liability, loss, or any other negative occurrence that is caused by external or internal vulnerabilities, and that may be avoided through preemptive action.” To re-word that simply, a risk involves the possibility for negative, undesired, and/or dangerous consequences, which can be lessened by taking certain precautions. While the definition focuses on the potential negative outcome of taking a risk, risks can also be beneficial, especially those with less of a probability for negative outcomes.

Some risks to take that can be especially beneficial: speaking up more in class,  joining a new club or activity involved with something you know nothing about, going to a fun event alone and meeting new people, exploring a new academic subject, acting silly and lettin go of self-consciousness with friends, etc. These carry risks of judgment or not enjoying yourself and they may take you outside of your comfort zone, but they also can have long term benefits, such as allowing you to make new friends, discover a new interest, and have fun. Taking these kind of social risks are encouraged, especially while in college, so that you can take advantage of all the opportunities available to you here. Some examples of risks to be especially careful about can include drinking excessively, engaging in sexual activities without taking the necessary precautions (i.e. using protection), and experimenting with drugs. These are probably the kind of risks you automatically think about when someone mentions risks.

When we are younger, we are usually taught to just completely avoid these dangerous risks, but as we get older and become adults, we must acknowledge that these risks are taken, or at least considered by most people. They can have benefits in the short term but it is important to be aware of the risk that you are taking (do your research!) before you choose to engage in any of these behaviors so that you can make an informed decision and take the necessary precautions to minimize that risk each time. Part of being aware of the risk is knowing how to prepare for the consequences and take responsibility if they do occur, rather than reacting with anger or shock, because you made an informed, conscious decision. 

Taking risks every once in a while can be okay, but also know when you might be taking too many or too often and you might want or need to talk to someone about it. Know the reason why you want to take these risks, as well, because if it is to escape or to satisfy someone else, then you may need to reconsider if it is worth it.

Overall, be proud of the choices that you make and stay safe, collegiettes!