A letter to everyone who’s afraid

Dear stranger,

When was the last time you actually told someone how you were doing, when they asked you? I mean a proper descriptive answer, not in a meme or an emoji. We both know those are just cop outs. I mean sharing an actual feeling – something you’re afraid of, something you’re proud of.

it’s been a really long time since I shared a feeling, so here goes.

When I look back at my life in 2017, I remember feeling weak. Whether it was work, or big life decisions, or even the humdrum daily chores, I just never seemed to have sufficient energy. I had no idea why.

I used to wake up for work feeling tired. While showering a haphazard list of things to do for the day used to weigh me down one by one faster than the water itself. I got stressed out every time my Uber encountered a teeny bit of traffic, or got a pick-up on pool, which was pretty much everyday. By the time I even started work, I felt defeated by life.

Back then, I did not articulate it like this, it all just felt fuzzy. It is easy to get carried away and bogged down with a simple google search on ‘not feeling okay’. It is easy to read up on a host of diseases and disorders and find patterns and similarities to your own life. And that’s exactly what I did.

There is a much simpler explanation of how I felt about all this, all of 2017 – I lived in constant fear.

  • Fear of being late
  • Fear of being unworthy of love
  • Fear of failure at work, and making mistakes
  • Fear of dissent from coworkers
  • Fear of being alone
  • Fear of traffic

There’s a lot more to this list, both big and tiny. The bottomline is, every day I was engulfed by fear. It was the very thing I breathed, and it was choking me in a way that would put Delhi’s air to shame.

In what little I have understood about life, there is nothing, nothing that makes you weaker than being possessed by fear. I don’t mean the kind of fear you feel before a big meeting, or when you see a lizard. I mean the kind that is your reality everyday. I find it easier to understand it fundamentally than words like stress or anxiety – which are rooted in fear themselves.

I found this perspective useful, because with fear I understand what I need to do – face it. What the fuck does one do about stress and anxiety anyway?

If a batsman in cricket is afraid of bouncers, what can he/she do? Play in a country where bouncers are illegal? Request bowlers to be kind to him and consider it good sportsmanship? No, there is no running away. Every time this batsman will walk out, every time a fast bowler runs toward him, the bouncer will be his worst fear. There is nothing unnatural about this. All players have weaknesses as all people do. Nobody is fearless by default -what separates one from another is whether they run towards it or away.

So what does a good player do? He practises. He choses to get peppered with fast bouncers everyday. In the games, maybe he will get hit in the head the first ten times. Maybe next twenty times he gets caught out. But sooner or later, when he has faced those bouncers enough, the fear will subside. Instead of being filled with dread, he will actually wait and see what kind of ball he is facing, and play them better as well.

There’a a story I love about Cristiano Ronaldo. He once lost at Table Tennis to Rio Ferdinand, and was quite upset. In fact he was so upset that he got his cousin to buy him a table, practised for two weeks at home, then came back and beat Rio in front of everyone.

I hit rock bottom a year ago, and didn’t really think I would ever come back from that. I thought I’d just be a vegetable for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to get up from bed, or even smile. Both confidence and motivation were non existent. It still gives me shivers to recall those days.

But I’m still here. I have found strength that I never believed I had, and am a very different man compared to 2017 & 2018. And that is not something you just buy from Amazon. When you stop blaming the world for your mood/condition, you start taking responsibility. When you take responsibility, you start taking actions. I recognised my demons and resolved to face them in any way I could.

I am still afraid of a great many things, but that doesn’t get in the way of life nowadays. Of course, it all may come crashing down tomorrow and I might hit a new rock bottom – but I’m really proud to have made it this far.

So if you’re feeling inexplicably low, try writing down some of your fears connected to this feeling. You don’t need to ask anyone whether you need meditation, whether you need therapy/counselling, whether you need a self-help book. If you think something will help tackle even one item in your list, just go for it. If it helps, great. If it doesn’t, you can strike it off the list. I find it calming to realise that we will never run out of things to try. And make no mistake, doing things is you waging war on your demons. It is not a matter of finding the perfect weapon, it is a matter of you choosing to attack.

There would be many people who would say writing this was a bad idea, and how projecting such vulnerability damages my image. Don’t let these people come in the way of you and your feelings. We are not the images we post or the shoes we wear. This naked vulnerability is what connects us all. This is who we are.

Of course, you don’t need to post it publicly either – but this is who I am.

4 thoughts on “A letter to everyone who’s afraid

  1. My favorite bit: “I find it calming to realize that we will never run out of things to try. And make no mistake, doing things is you waging war on your demons.”
    Your post vindicates my brother’s advice that the best comfort comes from knowing that someone else out there is waging a war just like yours, you are never alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s my favorite bit as well! It has given me comfort for many months now.
      Good advice, it helps to know you’re not alone – happy to know I am fulfilling that knowledge šŸ™‚


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