According to science, we were born with only two fears – fears of falling from heights and loud noises. Yet today, I can’t seem to find the end of my list of fears.
I was afraid. I am afraid. I will be afraid.
Nothing changes except the fact that I do.
& everyone does, with time.
When I was young, my home was my oyster. It was rather safe so I feared mere creatures like cockroaches (I still highly dislike them). I felt safe under my parents’ shelter so I spoke my views confidently, got my way through tantrums and lived life spontaneously.
Slowly as I grew older and pushed my horizons further away from my abode to explore the sea, I came to face my first fear – the fear of rejection. Primary school wasn’t an easy period of time for me. Everyone seemed to have their own circle of friends, yet I seemed to always failed. That combined with my non-existent intelligence didn’t help me garner any brownie points either. It was the first time I was being rejected by the people around me for being Indian. It left a very deep mark on me since then. In attempts to gain some attention, I went about the wrong way and found myself in hot soup most of the time. I felt helpless and alone. During these times, I cried and pleaded God so many times. God noticed me, yet he decided it was time for me to have another fear.
When I was 10, my grandfather left me. He passed on. That’s when another fear joined the list – the fear of being left behind. It’s not as if I was really close to my grandfather to begin with. We shared a few minutes of calls every other month, a paragraph of his letters and a month every two years to spend with him. My brother spent his majority of his childhood with him and so did my cousins, it was only me who didn’t spend as much time with them. Yet, when he passed on, I cried incessantly. Partly because I won’t see him again, it was for the first time I saw the people around me that weak. It knocked me off this high pedestal of victim mentality I had – that I was the only one going through hard times. The thing about death is the fact that the deceased leaves everyone in difficult times. I was left behind in this atmosphere of sorrow, mourning and self-reflection. That incident changed so many things drastically. My tastes flipped, my interests changed. From this girlish person who never looked past the pinks, now only saw the blues and embraced the pitch darkness and embraced the tomboy style. From being this person who excelled in athletics, I moved to make academics my aim in life. Obviously, my parents were glad because I was beginning to see what was important to me. Yet, to me, this was my way of saying goodbye to my past self. Leaving the essence of me behind was my definition of goodbye.
The fear of being left behind has many different interpretations, many applied to me.
The fear of being ignored – I couldn’t bear the silence. The silence was a dead-end to me. I always had a conversation going, also earning myself a label of being talkative along that journey. It sounds bad, but to me then, it was lighter than silence. Not having to tiptoe on thin ice, not having to decipher what the other person is thinking gave me such relief.
The fear being left alone – I buried myself with company, to the point where the only times I was alone was the the restroom and in my bed, ready to sleep. I did anything and everything to keep them around, agreed with everything they said, praised them. Yet, I would always be left alone. I learnt afterwards what kept people around you was not what you did for them, but you can offer them in the future.
The fear of not being able to keep up with the pace – I attempted to keep up with school to the best of my abilities but it didn’t go my way because everyone was already used to the grind. I was spit out in pieces and yet I pushed on. The end comes – was my motivation. However, I forgot the most important thing about the end, it signals a new battle, a new journey. I would never actually be done.
The fear of being forgotten, getting left behind in memories – many people may mention that I have a bright personality (that’s at least what my report cards say) and I’m very spontaneous. I needed a place to feel safe to be me and the only place turned out to me. To ensure it stays safe, I built great walls to throw off people from thinking I had worries. My social media only sung tunes of good memories. However, just like everyone, all this was part of a facade I made for myself. I found the need to portray myself as this really happy person who had it all going for her, so that people would remember me longer. Day by day, I fed more traits to this “alter ego” personality I created. Somewhere along the journey, I lost the true essence of who I was, I lost myself. To me, it was taboo to talk about struggles and suffering. This period of time was specifically houses the darkest memories for me.
A year later, I moved on to a neighbourhood secondary school. I was hell bent to avoid people because I had enough of fighting off previous fears I faced in primary school. I decided to stay away from the root cause of my fears – interacting with people. It obviously failed, but the first year I did successfully pushed everyone away. Secondary school didn’t give me much time to face my fears, I was caught up in how to be the best in everything. I joined endless competitions, I mindlessly committed myself to any opportunity that came my way, I spent day and night studying for I couldn’t bear to lose without a battle fought. 2 years passed and I grew to hate myself more. I couldn’t prove anything to anyone. The passionate fire waned and it merely simmered enough to study before the exams in hopes to at least pass. On the good side, I met new people who had passions for different fields. Talking to them, sharing experiences with them and spending time to know them better made me a better conversationalist. Every once in a while, the small fear of parting after graduation turned up like an uninvited guest. I sat it down, had a small talk with it – assuring myself that we could stay in touch if we made the time and effort – and sent it on its way. It turned up on many other occasions and the cycle repeated.
Around this time, I came face to face with the concept of love. My previous opinion of anything to do with love and romance, was not exactly a bed of roses. It was a bed of roses with roses cut off, all it had to offer was thorns. It was irrational, unreasonable and waste of people’s time when they were all going to break up in the end, especially at my age. I loved having crushes – the suspense, the hide & seek sequence, the shy and nerve-wrecking encounters, the nights spent over-thinking each conversation and gesture. I never thought beyond it because it sounded crazy to me. Somehow, I ended up in one.
It was nice having someone to care about, to be affectionate towards. Maturity kicked in much later than it should have. I ended up thinking I found someone I could be one with and mapped my lifetime, painted an unrealistic dream. I saw myself change so drastically, from this cold human to an overly affectionate person. I got scared yet again. Scared of change, scarred by the fact I could no longer retain the essential bit of me – I backed out, like a coward. No regrets, but I chose to live out my fear. I wanted to be alone for the time to come. Not because I didn’t feel anything, but I feared myself, my ability to commit, I certainly didn’t want to hurt anyone. The best remedy, lock yourself up in a bubble so that all possible damage is reflected back to you. I wanted to become my fear – I wanted to exist alone.
Time went on, the list grew, never lessened. I got past some fears with new experiences. I went through some to only see my ideals change vastly – what I wished for was not what I truly wanted. Some experiences proved me right that what I wanted to do was the road to walk. Through those, I changed vastly. It was only bound to happen. What changed most in this so-called transformation was the perception of me. When I was younger, I loved myself, yes to a level of a narcissist. What was good about it, I had lesser reasons to discredit myself. I could be assured that the results I received were purely my effort.
As I grew up, I began realising what my family expects of be, what society expects of a perfect woman and what qualities my friends needed in theirs, I turned out to be the complete opposite. I am not inclined in academics or anything whatsoever, I turned to be a tomboy who has gamophobia and even Wikipedia labelled me as a bad friend. I had it going for me…downhill. I can’t say I was scared to be different, I’ll talk about this in a bit. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being who I am, but as me, I don’t like me. Of course, that means we start the journey of self-realisation and what I really want to be.
Start from self.
Start small and go far.
At least that’s what I want to do.
I may have used an unfamiliar word before- Gamophobia. Fret not, here’s what that is.
It is the fear of commitment, can also be the excessive, persistent, uncontrollable and irrational fear of marriage. It is derived from the Greek word Gamos which means marriage and phobos meaning fear. – Wikipedia
The thought someone having to tolerate me for the rest of their lives sounds like a great disservice. As for me, I can’t imagine being tied to one person/thing for too long. Things can change in the future – I’ll keep that possibility open. I personally believe in experiencing the new, and for that it’s important to move from the old- be it relationships, places, routines, lifestyles etc. As a girl, movies and school tells you that your fate is to find your prince charming, working as something you aspired to be and live happily. The thing about commitment is the fact that it feels like shackles to the person involved and I. I don’t want to hold anyone back from experiencing new things, meeting new people, gaining new knowledge. Some may say that these are choices made by one, to choose to spend their time with you.
One of my fears at the present is to be different – to stand out. As a Leo, you’re considered to be the life of party. I used to agree with this when I was young. I understand society and communities love to propagate the idea that being different is important – in an utopian case, everyone who is skilled in different fields would be able to come together to become a group of people who are self-reliant.
It’s okay to be different. It’s at these very words that I shudder. It brings back so many memories of how I was told off for not doing what I was expected to do at my age – study and end up in the best schools. Surely, I am not saying that being different is bad. It’s not as if you being different drags your soul into the dark side and the mediocre people are safe by following the paths taken by their ancestors. I actually applaud people who can decide against following the safest routes and set path on their journey of self-discovery. However, it is one of those things where it’s okay to others but not to me. The argument what makes you different makes you you never actually resonated with me, especially going into secondary school. I personally believe, everyone is born fairly the same. Their background, experiences, education level, travels etc. shapes them to become the way they are.
Everyone has their own fears. In my opinion, fears define you for they are formed by your experiences. Of course you shouldn’t make that the sole definition of you. There’s so many other factors that define you, we should never forget that. Fears are like mini challenges that you have to get past to reach the next level of a better self. Technically, I am relating video games to life. Each level gets a little harder but with the XP, the never ending collection of armoury and skill sets, you can get accomplish your goals and tasks.
It’s okay to be afraid. You just need to know what you’re afraid of. People may say life has no time for “useless” fears. It’s only easy to speak of it. First step is awareness and with time, you’ll grow to face them.