You’re Never Too Old To Take Risks

Chicago skyline

It’s all well and good to encourage kids to take risks. It expands their horizons, builds confidence, and hones life skills they’ll need as adults. But just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you don’t need to do the same.

I was reminded of this as I planned an overnight trip to Chicago earlier this week. We live about 3 1/2 hours away from the city, and I’ve visited Chicago many times over the years. I had a writing assignment that required a visit to the Field Museum, so I thought it would be fun to take Elena with me – just a quick little girls’ getaway. It occurred to me that in all my visits to the city, I’d never actually gone on my own. I’d either taken a bus in for the day or gone with my parents or my husband.

I was definitely apprehensive about the trip, for several reasons:

  • In order to save money, I planned on using Priceline or Hotel Tonight to snag a last-minute deal. This meant I wouldn’t know exactly where we were staying until the day of the trip.
  • I’d never driven in Chicago.  We’d be arriving in the late afternoon, and I was worried about traffic.  I was also worried about getting lost.
  • I didn’t know where to park.  I knew I didn’t want to spend the money to valet the car at the hotel, but I didn’t want to drive around aimlessly trying to find a safe and reasonable place to park.
  • I needed to use public transportation to get us from the hotel to the museum and back.  It looked confusing and I was worried about taking the wrong bus.

So what’s an adult to do when they’re feeling both excited by and anxious about doing something they’ve never done before?  Well, I did exactly what I would tell my kids to do: assess the situation, prepare yourself as best you can, ask questions, and give it a try!

Elena and I ended up having a wonderful time.  Traffic was fine.  I found a great hotel in the perfect location at a good price.  I took a few minutes before we hit the road to research parking options online, and found a cool service call SpotHero.  I was able to plug in the address of the hotel and reserve a spot in a parking garage just down the block from our hotel for a fraction of the price it would’ve cost to valet park.  I plugged the address of the garage in my GPS and found it without any trouble.  I asked the concierge at the hotel about taking the bus, and he directed me to the city’s public transportation website.  It had a trip planner where you could indicate where you wanted to go and what time you wanted to get there, and it gave you detailed directions on which bus to take, what the fare would be, and how to get to the bus stop.

Each step of the way, Elena was watching.  I was very open about being nervous about some details of the trip.  I wanted her to see that everyone gets anxious sometimes, and that new situations (even exciting ones) can make you fearful, no matter how old you are.  I wanted her to see that in life we always have a choice – to step out of our comfort zones and end up doing some really cool things, or to pass opportunities by because you think you’re not capable of handling the tricky parts.

As I navigated the busy roads of downtown Chicago to get to our hotel, I had to turn the radio off.  I told ElenaI had to concentrate because it was stressing me out.  Once we were parked and on our way to the hotel she said, “How did you even do that?  I would be freaking out!”  And I told her that I just paid attention and trusted myself.

If she can go through life doing the same, she’ll be able to go anywhere and do anything she sets her mind to.  And I’d risk just about anything to set her up for that kind of success.

Chicago, just me and my girl.



  1. Glad you loved using SpotHero!