We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Parsons and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarah, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I believe risk taking is a part of many aspects of everyday life. Whether it be mental, physical, or emotional risk it’s often present in some shape or form. I’d say I am someone who is fairly comfortable taking risks. I generally lean more towards calculated risks, but then people see my work as an acrobat being much more inherently “risky” then everyday life. In order to grow within the practice of acrobatics one must be fairly open to taking risks. Learning acrobatic skills and tricks while balancing on people high up in the air requires a lot of trust and willingness to take risks.
Learning something new requires a level of comfort with risk taking and requires a lot of courage. Being comfortable with trying new things has taken me far in life. I think this type of risk taking is incredibly important in keeping life exciting, growing, and moving through hard times. I do experience some fear when taking risks, but I try to manage them so they aren’t paralyzing or keeping me from something important or life changing. I like to think that things will turn out more often for the better than for worse.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Outside of my work as an acrobat and performance artist, I also work in the field of education. I was a school teacher for many years before moving into administration and education outreach. I left classroom teaching a number of years ago and it wasn’t easy. I started to feel burnt out and stuck. I had a really hard time letting go of a career I had dedicated a decade of my life and multiple degree programs to. Then I was unexpectedly laid off due to budget cuts and it was actually a blessing in disguise. It was the push I needed to make a change and move on. I was propelled into starting my next career path, which is where I am now. I am VERY glad I made that shift and would do it again in a heartbeat.
I have to say – learning to let go of something you’ve spent so much time, money, and effort on building up has to be one of the hardest things. I thought I was going to be a teacher for the rest of my career but sometimes (often) plans change. With the help of friends, mentors, and circumstance I was able to finally make the change I’d been needing and wanting. I went through many phases and shades of self doubt, thinking that my previous career hadn’t served me, and that I wasn’t going to get anywhere with my skill set, but that was so far from the truth. It’s hard to see your value when you’re in the thick of it. Self deprecating fear is always working, around the clock, to make us doubt ourselves but we have to learn to ignore it. It’s easy to forget about all that we’ve learned through all of our cumulative professional and life experiences and how valuable those experiences are/have been. I’ve learned that skill sets can be seen through different angles and lenses that lead you down new, unexpected and fruitful paths. If you’re unhappy, I’ve found (at least in my own life) that it’s often worth it to make the change and take the risk. Each experience is a learning opportunity that teaches you how to do/see things differently and maybe aim a little higher next time.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Boulder is a gorgeous town with a lot to offer, but a visit to Boulder wouldn’t be complete without a hike in the mountains or a bike ride along the creek path. I also enjoy taking strolls along Pearl St. with friends, or taking road trips to Red Feather Lakes and the surrounding area to camp in the summer. For special occasions, I love the Flagstaff House or Basta.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to dedicate this Shoutout to the Athletic Playground in Oakland, CA. Thanks to their excellent staff and teachers I felt safe and supported in the early stages of my acroyoga and partner acrobatics journey. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their help. Thank you for being such a wonderful and supportive community! I heart you!
Studio Oscura, Caitlyn Pender Photography
Samantha Kerrigan – Toxiic Entertainment