Risks. It's a difficult word, one that evokes a sort of panic in our brains wondering if this particular idea is going to kill us or not. Well, maybe it's not that bad, but come on, most of us aren't sitting here thinking "well what risk am I gonna take today?!?" If you are, bravo, my friend. You officially have more of your life under control than me. I love watching people take risks. I love the tears of joy when everything comes together and the masterpieces that are pulled out of the miry months of worrying over whether or not people will like it. Risks are beauty-makers and soul-changers---and risks are varying degrees of nerve-wracking.
I'm not the kind of person who would rather die than do something outside my comfort zone. A lot of the time I enjoy pushing the boundaries of what I can do, but when it comes to pushing my relationships with people, I can falter a few times before taking that first step. Trying something on the dance floor I would never normally try is a breeze in comparison. People have opinions. People can reject you. But people can love you too.
In September, I stumbled upon the phenomenon of Instameets. An Instameet is an event Instagrammers plan in order to meet the people in their community. As I scrolled through the hashtags from meets held in Dallas, San Francisco, and Orlando, I bemoaned that fact that no one did them here. It didn't even dawn on me until later that I could hold an Instameet as easily as anyone, and the more I thought about it the more excited I became. When I asked my friend what he thought, he was skeptical, "Great! An Instameet for two: you and me!" It was true. Only a few of my peers even knew what an Instameet was, let alone would want to come to one, and yet I put out the information for the Instameet anyways.
On October 4, nine people came out and spent four hours getting to know each other, shooting portraits, and laughing. People have been asking me how to get involved ever since, and I knew we wouldn't be able to stop. On December 12, my aforementioned friend hosted our second Instameet, bringing out a grand total of nineteen people.
Taken with an Iphone 6.
Before that first meet I was a ball of nervous energy, bouncing between worrying that no one would show up and hoping that people weren't thinking that this was a dumb idea. Looking back at it now, I see a community that is growing. People are being inspired to get involved and finding that they fit perfectly into the community we are creating. I've had conversations with people from different states about their desire to do the same thing, to create their own community through something as simple as an app.
I'm astounded by the amount of response that I've gotten from people. It was two months between our meets and yet the talk never died down. I've made new friends and have gotten to know them better. These people have affirmed my vision and any nervousness I held was all for nought.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that risks are beautiful. They are worth the worry every time; and after my experiences over this past year, I've realized I cannot build a community if I never step out of my comfort zone to create it---because if I won't, who will?
So, what risks are you struggling to take? What community are you building? And who are you reaching out to? These are questions I'm learning to ask everyday, questions I hope you'll ask too. Because after all, what is life if not an adventure? And what is adventure without people?
Just trying my best to hold onto feelings in the heart of Tennessee.