Sneaking is a bad word, risk is a good one

“We need more people who are willing to demonstrate what it looks like to risk and endure failure, disappointment, and regret—people willing to feel their own hurt instead of working it out on other people, people willing to own their stories, live their values, and keep showing up.” ~ Brené Brown

As it usually happens, I accidentally stumbled on a good thing. Clicking through podcast episodes while getting ready for work, I hit play on one without intending to. Being too lazy to go back and select the one I wanted, I went with it. By that time, I was already running late and work wasn’t going to get itself done.

This episode, called “A Parent’s Job”, (StoryCorps #526) started out with a story about a 13 year old girl and her dad, a reverend, who, in an effort to connect with his community, worked a side job as a trash collector. Typical stuff, parent embarrasses kid, kid learns a lesson about the value of hard work and helping people, everyone is happy.

But the last story carried a different kind of weight. A man, who had been a child—a gay child—in the 50s, had been sure he was fooling everybody (without fooling anybody) about who he was. After the boy unsuccessfully tried to duck around a corner and avoid being spotted by his dad who was visiting the school (more general teen embarrassment), his dad called him out on that. And on a little more.

He told him one thing: “Now, I’m gonia tell you something today, and you might not know what to think of it now, but you’re gonia remember it when you’re an adult: don’t sneak. Because if you sneak, like you did today, it means you think you’re doing the wrong thing. And if you run around spending your whole life thinking that you’re doing the wrong thing, then you’ll ruin your immortal soul.”

Don’t sneak.

Brilliant. It also seems pretty simple. (But I suppose it’s not.)

I have had my share of sneaking times. Hiding this feeling, that need, those thoughts. And if sneaking is the bad word, then I had a strong need to find the good word – the opposite word.

I could go with the standard antonyms – honest, open, frank. But I made up one of my own and I like it better: risk.

I have friends who are bravely honest. They risk things like being vulnerable, being judged. They risk not being completely put together. I have friends who let me do all of those things to. And I love them for it. They save me all the time.

Speaking as an introvert with a history of choosing anything over people much of the time, I would say people have become one of my biggest risks. I don’t know if full-bred extroverts can understand this. I like to think in certain moments, they can.

Surrounding myself with the right people for me has opened my eyes to the parts of humanity that aren’t – breaking news – exclusive to just me. Or just you. Over-analyzation, paranoia, fear, doubt. All the good ones are all-inclusive.

Fleetwood Mac said “time makes you bolder.” They also said “I’ve been afraid of changing.” I guess we can each just pick which lyric to focus on and go forward with that.

For those choosing the “afraid of changing lyric,” I feel you. But read on.

For those of us choosing the “bolder” lyric, we can’t do so without circling back around to risk. An article by Marc Chernow ( lists ten risks happy people take. They risk: being hurt, being real, missing out on new things in order to appreciate what they have, helping others without expectations, taking responsibility for happiness, consequences for actions taken, the discomfort of growth, failing, being disappointed, letting go & starting again.

Sounds like a list of potential disasters.

Then again, we already read the list – maybe there’s no time to go back and pick another one. We’re already running late and the work isn’t going to get itself done.