I have always been a relatively timid soul. I am conflict-averse, skeptical, and even rather lazy. But as I get older, I'm taking more and more risks--not free-climbing El Capitan, mind you, but undertaking tasks that expose me to criticism, sometimes of the very harsh and/or completely baffling variety. I would like to say that it gets a little easier to deal with this feeling of vulnerability over time, but I don't think I can say that. More like: I realize it's coming and that I will have to deal with it and go on. And: there's no reason to think the negative reactions are more correct than the positive ones--although I do tend to think that.
I say all this on the brink of a new year that brings with it a milestone birthday--because at a certain point (perhaps around the time when the years ahead of you are likely fewer than those behind), *not* taking risks becomes the real risk. I think Dolly Parton said something like this once. And I've started to feel that way myself. I'm not really any braver than I used to be, just more afraid of having regrets than of making mistakes.
Have a happy (and sensibly risky) new year!