Kate Szumanski | Director of Internships and Professional Development, Office for Undergraduate Students, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
“Taking risks in my professional life. The mere act of typing such bold action prompts in my mind a series of seemingly unending questions and slightly irrational “what-if” scenarios. Whether I like it or not, this is my default setting, my natural state, yet I have learned through the years to recognize this embarrassing fact, acknowledge my fears, and tell my inner critic to go bother someone else.
Risk-taking involves bold leaps and entry into the unknown. What immediately creeps into my thinking is the “what could go wrong?” of it all, not the “what could go right?” of it. What if I lose the good things that I already have? What if this is a poor move? What if I regret this step?
What I fail to recognize is all the good that could come. What if this shift allows me to grow and develop new skills? What if this role comes with more opportunities to learn? What if this move allows me to deepen my impact and more meaningfully contribute and help others?
My resistance/aversion to risk has meant that I limit my own growth and development out of fear of the unknown. It’s taken me a while to understand this about myself, and thankfully, now that I recognize this more clearly, I can work strategically to combat it. I hear that little voice of doubt and uncertainty and can quiet it. My resilience and confidence have grown as a result.
So do I have any regrets? No, I wouldn’t say that I have any regrets. I love where I am. What I do wish I knew “then” that I know “now” is that fear often hampers good decision-making. I understand this now, and I think that this realization allows me to do my job better, with more compassion and empathy for what others might be experiencing as they navigate risk.”