I Hate That I’ve Become So Risk-Averse

Living your life in fear isn’t really living

Ryan Fan


Photo by Edge2Edge Media on Unsplash

“Don’t write about controversial topics or say your opinions, Ryan. It come back to haunt you years from now. You’re going to be a lawyer.”

I wish these were just words someone else told me — it would make it easier to just shrug them off. But they’re words I tell myself, as I’ve become significantly more risk-averse than I’ve been in the past.

Right now, I’m in my first year of law school at night. I’m also working a very legalistic job as the person who chairs IEP meetings and ensures special education paperwork is done.

At my job, covering my behind is the name of the game. My colleague reminds me to not trust any verbal guarantees or promises. To cover ourselves, we need a parent’s consent or authorization to share files in writing. It’s not only legal requirements, but I find I have to hold my tongue and not say what I really think a lot more often than I used to.

I used to take risks all the time. I used to just write whatever I wanted to and put it online, without fear of backlash or without fear of professional repercussions as long as I didn’t reveal any confidential information.

As I’ve advanced, the stakes have changed

Now, however, I’ve gotten a promotion and am in law school, so I feel the need to be a lot more, well, careful.

I used to be able to write an honest and very heartfelt 750 to 1000-word piece a day. I wrote what I thought and didn’t self-censor that much.

I don’t do that anymore not only because I’m really tired from going to work during the day and going to school at night, but because I fear what exposing my feelings or opinions too much can do to my career or my education.

When I was just a random teacher in the midst of a teacher shortage without higher professional ambitions, I felt like I had nothing to lose. The school district needed me more than I needed it, and I was extremely devoted to my students.

Now, I have a lot to lose. If I voice one grievance with my workplace and become labeled a troublemaker, it’s going to have huge professional repercussions. When I graduate…



Ryan Fan

Believer, Baltimore City IEP Chair, and 2:39 marathon runner. Diehard fan of “The Wire.” Support me by becoming a Medium member: https://bit.ly/39Cybb8