I posted a question and got an excellent response (I believe it was JerryB but am not sure). He suggested I needed the derailleur adjusted. I plan to take my bike to a bike store to do this as I am a novice rider and don't want to try to do this myself. My question is can I safely ride my bike before I have this done? Or is it likely to result in more damage to my bike if I don't get this fixed right away?
I was one of the people who responded. Adjusting a derailleur sounds intimidating but honestly it's not all that complicated. There are generally 3 adjustment screws (two limit screws and an "indexing" screw) and it's pretty easy to set everything up as long as you have a way to hold the rear wheel off the ground. It's also easier if you have a helper to slowly turn the pedals and/or move the shift lever for you.
It's well worth the effort to understand how to adjust it yourself because over time the cable will stretch and things will go out of alignment again, it's something you generally have to "tweak" about once a year depending on the amount of riding/shifting that you do.
Park makes an excellent video on the topic.
(Note, some derailleurs only have two screws and do indexing with the barrel screw as shown on the video. Others use a third screw that is actually on the derailleur itself)