Risk-Taking: How to Love the Risks that Don't Work Out

Last year, I decided to take a really big risk.

Arguably, it was one of the biggest risks of my life so far. It was a risk for my career, my bank account, and my stress levels. I went back to school for a subject I had zero experience in. I wanted to become a counsellor.

That’s a very sharp turn from my degree in communications. I spent a lot of time questioning myself—would I succeed in this new field? Would I have what it takes? I didn’t have a scientific mind, I had only taken one class in psychology and I had no idea what counselling even required. Not to mention, school costs a hell of a lot of money. Was I crazy?!

I Knew I really, really wanted to try. And for me, that was enough.

To become a counsellor, you need a masters degree, which meant applying for grad school. Before I could do that, I needed to complete a handful of pre-requisite courses in the field.

I talked to an advisor at school, and she assured me the program accepted students with different backgrounds because no two counsellors are the same. That made me feel more confident in my decision.

So, I pressed onwards and enrolled myself in all the classes I needed. Despite the risk, I was going to make this happen, I could feel it. I had this renewed sense of direction that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

But risks often come with skepticism.

I had to answer what felt like a million judgemental questions about counselling. Why counselling?! For many, therapy is a touchy subject with a lot of personal experience and bias around it. I learned quickly that I was going to hear unsolicited opinions from just about everyone about their thoughts on “shrinks.”

I was told I wasn’t cut out to deal with people every day who are “crazy” and that it was a bad idea to go back to school for a completely new career path. Plenty of people said I should become a life coach instead because it’s faster and cheaper. And what I heard the most was that this was a phase I would grow out of.

“Despite the risk, I was going to make this happen. I had this renewed sense of direction that I hadn’t felt in a long time.”

Basically, there were a lot of people who didn’t believe in me, which made me want to prove them all wrong. It just added more fuel to my fire.

I took this big risk because I felt like I needed to make a drastic shift in my life. I was looking for purpose—I wanted to help people, to make a difference. I loved listening to my friends, providing advice or just lending a hand in whatever situation they were in. Counselling felt like a really good fit.

I jumped in head first, working part-time and going to school for almost a full year. I studied my brains out, received really good marks, and applied for grad school in December.

After three months of waiting, over the phone I heard the answer. And that answer was a very simple, very difficult no.

I hung up, cried, then called my mom and cried some more. In an instant, I was a failure. I’d let myself down. And the worst part was that all that criticism, all that judgement from all those people—they were right. I didn’t measure up. It was all just a phase. Go back to your old life, Chelle. Nice try.

This was the first time in my life where I had taken a risk, tried so hard to make things work, and failed.

The pity-party lasted for a while. And for six months after my application was rejected, I felt very unsure of everything. I went back to work without a lot of purpose or real enthusiasm. I kept myself at arms length from diving into anything too deep. My relationship with myself suffered a lot.

And the worst part? I wanted nothing to do with counselling anymore. I didn’t even go to see a counsellor after this all happened. I was done with that world. See ya later.

My coping mechanism was to block it all out and pretend it never happened.

It was easier than looking at the situation from a different perspective. Easier than acknowledging my emotions. Easier than asking the hard questions.

But doing the work is exactly why I wanted to become a counsellor in the first place. That work matters. That work is where personal growth and change happens.

A few months ago, I thought back to my “why” for wanting to be a counsellor. It was genuinely to help and connect with others, but also to learn more about myself and become more self-aware. Could I do that in another way? Could I evolve this passion into something that looked different than two years of school and a graduate degree?

Oh, yes. Yes I can.

“But doing the work is exactly why I wanted to become a counsellor in the first place. That work matters. That work is where personal growth and change happens.”

And so, I’ve decided to infuse those values into my vision for my blog. My goal is to create an online space that is raw and relatable that speaks to the mindful modern girl—the girl who is trying her best to figure out this thing we call life. She makes mistakes, she questions herself, she has really hard days where she feels like a failure. But she gets back up, again and again, to persevere. And she has a lot of fun, too, while she’s at it.

I may not be a counsellor, but I’m here to share my thoughts on life in the realest way possible in hopes that it makes you feel less alone.

Now, I’m back to regular sessions with my counsellor who is amazing—I have so much respect for the work they do. I’m happier and more confident in myself and my decisions. My job is still in the communications sphere, but I’ve committed myself to it wholeheartedly and truly love it. I’m not pursuing counselling anymore, but I have all the tools I need if I plan to go in that direction again someday.

Most of all, I feel a renewed sense of purpose and direction in a completely different way than before. The risk of going back to school didn’t turn out like I thought it would, but that’s sort of how life is, isn’t it?

“She makes mistakes, she questions herself, she has really hard days where she feels like a failure. But she gets back up, again and again, to persevere.”

To break it all down, here are my top five lessons I learned from this experience:

  1. Risks are worth taking. They might not end up how you expect, but they will always help you learn something about the world and yourself. So if you’re thinking, “Should I?” The answer is yes!

  2. Rejection and failure is an opportunity to step back and look at things differently. It’s a lesson, not an ending.

  3. People will always have opinions and judgements. You get to decide how to react to them.

  4. It’s okay to feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated, or defeated. But it’s not okay to feel like that all the time. Working through the emotions is important.

  5. Give yourself a lot of credit for your hard work. Even if you don’t land the job, or get accepted into school, or sign the deal, you deserve to celebrate you and the work you put in.

It took me almost a year to be able to write this story—it’s not an easy process, but a worthwhile one to share. Did you take a risk that didn’t work out? I’d love to hear from you if you want to leave a comment, message me on Instagram or send me an email to connect. Thank you so much for reading.