Take time to try new things, even scary ones

Sometimes I agree to do something before thinking it all the way through. My mom is likely chuckling right now because she probably recalls telling me repeatedly as a child, “Think before you speak.”

It has been good for me in many ways, though, because it keeps my life adventurous and full of experiences and lessons I would miss if I didn’t say yes to these things. It can also add unnecessary drama sometimes, as well. One of the things I said yes to before fully thinking it through just came to an end. I housed a Thunder Bay Theatre Core Company actress for two and a half months this summer.

It was a good experience, full of lessons that I’ll carry with me for a very long time. Likely forever. Before I get into more on that, I must say that the talent that comes and goes from the Theatre is incredible. The voices of those young adults are amazing. I’m not sure everyone realizes the level of talent that comes to Alpena for the shows every year. Not to mention the local talent we already have who also participate in the shows at both local theaters. The theaters are certainly one of the many gems in our community.

Inviting a stranger into your home for any amount of time is a risky decision. We literally knew nothing about each other. The most information I found out about her in advance, I learned from Facebook and other social media. There were a lot of things she could have been – a thief, disrespectful, destructive, as examples, and I wouldn’t have discovered these things until it was likely too late. After she moved in and we started to learn more about each other, I discovered we were very different from one another. I am a morning person, she isn’t. I hate napping, she loves it. We share the same shoe size, but that’s about it when it comes to our clothing tastes. She can sing beautifully, I cannot sing well at all. Even when I’m alone. I was raised in the country, she was raised in a city. I am almost old enough to be her mother. Almost. We are just very different people.

That could have led to a bad situation and a terrible summer housing experience, but what kept that from happening was how we handled the situation. Because we focused on our common ground, were genuine to one another, and had patience with our differences, striving to learn from and understand them instead of let them get between us, we were able to have a valuable experience this summer, making lots of memories, learning more about ourselves, and appreciating what we each had to offer.

When we allow ourselves to have experiences that are outside of our normal routine or outside of our usual comfort levels, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to grow and learn more about ourselves. I’ve written about emotional intelligence before – our capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathically. It can be consciously improved over time and leads to some very positive outcomes. One of the best ways to practice and improve our emotional intelligence is to get to know ourselves better and practice skills in real situations, letting the experience teach us along the way.

I know saying yes to too many things can be a burden on our time and energy or other resources. But saying no to everything can leave us without opportunities to grow as individuals, experience potentially very rewarding times, and do something new that we might end up loving. I don’t know if I will house another Theatre cast member in the future. I cherish my alone time at my home. That doesn’t mean I don’t value the experience. If you’re looking for a new adventure, a new experience, and a chance to grow yourself, I recommend saying yes to something you may not be inclined to say yes to out of fear of the unknown.

No matter how it turns out, if you view it with the right mindset, you won’t regret it.

Jackie Krawczak is president/CEO of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column runs bi-weekly on Thursdays. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jkrawczak.