It’s Worth the Risk (I promise)

This is Sarah. She’s one of my dearest friends.

Almost seven years ago — back when I was living in Minneapolis, working at a public broadcasting company, and awkwardly trying to teach myself how to be a grown-up person — I stumbled upon Sarah’s blog.

I was immediately drawn in by her hilarious writing, warmth, kindness, and curiosity about a million different things (travel, people from other cultures, personal growth, equality, fairness, cats, cheese, Jello shots, how to make the best scones: no stone upturned).

I saw her photo in the upper right-hand corner of her blog. Something inside my heart went, “ZING!”

I can’t explain it. I just felt, so strongly, that we were supposed to be friends.

I sent her a brief email and said something along the lines of:

“We have so much in common. We’re both American, but we both attended college in New Zealand. We both have blogs. We both work at non-profit organizations. We both love cheese. Etc. Can we have coffee sometime?”

I honestly didn’t expect her to respond to my email.

But she did.

We had coffee and it was instant friend-chemistry.

Since then, we’ve seen each other through first dates and break-ups and girl-trips to Vegas. We’ve eaten gigantic chocolate chip pancakes at greasy spoon diners together. We’ve celebrated as both of us met our true loves — strangely, right around the same time. We’ve seen each other through business launches, creative dry spells, book deals that worked out, book deals that didn’t, online bullying, and one time, a literal fire. (What happened was: a gigantic fire broke out across the street while I was talking to Sarah on the phone. I saw it through my window. I had to hang up on Sarah so that I could call “911.” But then I called Sarah right back because I needed to hear the end of the story she’d been telling me. Priorities.)

Our friendship was born because, one fateful day, I sent an email to a complete stranger from the Internet.

In other words:

I took an emotional risk.

I knocked on a stranger’s door.

I made myself vulnerable to being ignored or rejected.

In this particular instance, that didn’t happen. It could have happened. But it didn’t.

What if I had never taken that risk?

Then I would have no Sarah in my life.

I want you to have lots of “Sarahs” in your life — friends, lovers, collaborators, opportunities, and experiences that make you feel grateful to be alive.

But in order to meet your personal version of “Sarah,” you must be willing to take some type of risk.

It might be a creative risk, or a financial risk, though most frequently, it’s an emotional risk. The risk is, “I might feel somewhat unhappy, rejected or disappointed if this doesn’t pan out the way I want.” But you can survive that. Generally, it’s a small price to pay for the possibility of meeting your Sarah.

Send the email. Click the button. Pick up the phone. Tell the story. Clear your throat {ahem} and say “hi” to the woman you’ve seen at the coffee shop five dozen times but whom you’ve never spoken to before.

One tiny act of courage could lead to a new friendship, or your next job, client, project, or love affair.

Open your heart to a few prickles of potential discomfort.

I promise…

It’s worth the risk.

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Alexandra Franzen

When it comes to being a better writer — and a better human being — Alexandra Franzen has a ten-word philosophy: Start with love. Keep it simple. You are not confused. Alexandra’s refreshingly simple communication tips have been featured on Fast Company, Forbes, The Daily Love, The Daily Muse, MediaBistro, MindBodyGreen and The Huffington Post — and on radio programs from coast to coast. Learn more at www.alexandrafranzen.com.

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