Remember the first time you jumped out of an airplane? The adrenaline rush you felt right before you leaped into the air? Maybe you’ve not taken the dive from 30,000 feet, but the rush before we take a risk is universal. Teens do it all the time, and then risk seems to lose its appeal once we “grow up.” Though there are plenty of risks that flirt with—or go over— the edge in terms of safety, teens’ draw to risk is actually something we can all learn from.
a novel idea
In his book Brainstorm, Daniel Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute, celebrates adolescents’ attraction to risk, or “novelty” as he calls it. Siegel describes novelty as “how we seek out and create new experiences that engage us fully, stimulating our senses, emotions, thinking, and bodies in new and challenging ways.” It occurs to us here at Valo that perhaps we adults may sometimes wish we were as free spirited as the teens around us. Deep down, we are nostalgic for the rush we felt as adolescents.
they’re onto something
A Valo teen recently shared her view of risk, and we think it’s spot—on. “Taking risks isn’t just a part of growing up, it’s a part of life.” When we’re on our retreats, we watch teens take risks all the time. The youth are quick to experiment with new types of creating (like silk screening and song writing ) and go for new physical challenges (think polar plunge or dangling from tree branches!), but what strikes us as the most significant form of risk involves their words and voices. During conversations, the teens dare to put themselves out there—both in the intimate truths they choose to uncover as well as in the questions and responses they boldy offer to others in the circle. These risks are remarkable, not only for the momentary flush they may reveal, or tears they may shed, but even more for the ways they show that the teens are learning to tap into their emotions and connect to others in fresh (novel!) and authentic ways.
we dare you
Next time a chance for risk appears, we wonder if you’ll go for it. Maybe you’ll join a teen as she leaps off the bridge into cool waters below. Or perhaps you’ll follow his lead at the chance to go a little deeper in a conversation. Remember, those butterflies in your stomach or tingles up your spine, are pretty certain indicators that you’re learning something new. In the end, we bet you’ll agree with the teens, taking risks is a (great!) part of life. One, two, three … jump!