Scholar Voice: Seeing risks as opportunities

Have you ever dwelled on all that can go wrong or felt afraid to take risks? Have your hands gotten shaky, your face red, and your body trembling with fear? If that has happened, know that it’s perfectly normal. A famous proverb is: you miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.  Likewise, you risk 100% of the shots in life, if you don’t take those risks.

Often times, people are afraid and hesitant to take risks because the action they have to partake in requires them to utilize a skill that they don’t want to be seen by other people.

There is a specific instance when I took a risk that resulted in one of the most impactful, special moments of my life. Back in 6th grade, during Chinese class, the teacher announced that we would be participating in an online Chinese video contest, Youth Voices on China. The contest challenged middle, high school, and college students in America to develop a multi-faceted video that expressed a distinctive, innovative idea on how to build stronger relations between the United States and China. Out of the 9 kids in this class, she wanted all of us to participate with any aspect of the contest, whether we played a big or small role. As I glanced around the room, I noticed the eager faces of many of my classmates–their expression a complete antithesis of mine. I knew that every fiber in my body did not want to participate in this project; my insecurities and fear of speaking out kicked in. However, I felt that I didn’t have a choice because this was work that was required by my teacher.

Due to the small group, I had an easier time contributing to conversations without the constant presence of my Chinese teacher; I can still recall her unfaltering gaze and steely, high pitched voice that consistently pointed out the most meticulous mistakes. However, her critical remarks ironically motivated me to prove that our ideas were not worthless. This project, that I previously thought was another burden of school, turned out to be an assignment that I wanted to do well in. As my confidence intensified, I decided to volunteer to be one of the members in the video, a decision that I regretted as soon as it came out of my mouth.

Once I had gotten a taste of my effectiveness in the group and a strong inclination to win the contest, I thought of the risk as a profound opportunity where I could utilize my skill, speaking in front of the camera + collaborating with students, in an effective manner.

During our time of working on the video, we all pitched in ideas like exchange student programs that can send kids to China in order to build stronger relations between China and America. I took charge of the Google docs where we created our script for the videos, and I became the main narrator of the video. After assigning other roles such as the 3 dancers from our group, an interview with another Chinese foreign exchange student, and editing, we were ready to post the video! We printed out hundreds of fliers, encouraged teachers, students and parents to vote for our video, and posted our video on social media. As results proceeded, with much enthusiasm, we won the public votes and came in the top. We were ecstatic to learn that we had the opportunity to fly to San Francisco to receive our award.

Ultimately, if I had failed to engage in this opportunity, I genuinely would not have known what I was capable of.

Even if you feel that you are gambling away your life or making a major error, it is still worthwhile to see the result.

About the Author:

My name is Caroline and I’m from Boston, but I was originally born in Nepal. I am a sophomore at the Boston Latin School. This year as a peer leader, I’m really looking forward to reconnecting with Steppingstone and gaining team-building skills with the help of my fellow peer leaders.