Facing Fear – by Kinjal

FEAR- It’s a small word. To be precise just a four letter word, but it has immense power. It can make the strongest of men cower and often the most intelligent people end up doing something utterly silly when consumed by fear.

I am here to tell you that fear is overrated.  If you feed it by giving it attention, it is bound to become stronger and take over your life, but if you decide to face it; it can’t survive. To begin with there is nothing to be afraid of! It’s the classic case of getting creeped out at night by shadows dancing in your hallway, only to realize that it was  just your sofa looking like a monster because one of your family members accidentally fell on it and was just trying to get up before you hit the switches and the roof with a high pitched scream. (Embarrassing)

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Now, let’s time travel to the year 2003 when I was 10 years old and plagued by a monster called ‘stage fright’.

I was very upset with my parents because they had decided to send me and my twin sister Kaajal for speech and drama classes.  The mere idea of going to class where I would have to talk to not just one stranger but in front of several strangers seemed appalling. I sulked, shouted, begged and tried every possible trick to convince them not to send me to class but none of it worked. I HAD to join class.

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Whenever it was time to go, I would always fall sick. Whatever I ate on Saturday mornings never stayed in my stomach because Saturday meant elocution day (read electrocution day for the ten year old me). Saturday was a nightmare for mom too, as it involved a lot of shouting, complaining and crying on my part and cajoling, coaxing, and finally a stern warning on her part.

On noticing my unnatural reaction to a totally normal situation my mother was all the more determined to send me to class. She knew I was afraid and according to her, the solution lay in the problem itself, going to class!

I abhorred those classes not because my teacher was bad or the other kids were mean, I just didn’t want to face my fear of talking in front of an audience. I was painfully shy as a child and talking in front of a large gathering seemed like the worst punishment. I feared that I would screw up and then be laughed at in class. I suffered from a constant fear of being judged.

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After a few months, I could recite short poems and pieces in class without stuttering, thanks to my teacher who was the epitome of kindness and patience. Every time I had to give a speech or narrate a story, my legs quaked and my hands shook but I kept at it. It took some time, but my stage fright did go away.

I diligently went to class for more than a year, and even participated in a play- the jungle book. I essayed the role of a jackal, Sher Khan’s evil sidekick and for the first time I actually enjoyed being on stage. Even now when I address a crowd, my nerves jangle a bit, but I’m not paralyzed by fear anymore. I just take a deep breath and go for it.

I have realized that the only way to vanquish fear is to go through it and not around it. Facing your fear is very important because every time you do something that scares you, you become stronger, more courageous and confident. So the next time you’re afraid to do something, instead of taking a step back, take a step forward and do it, because facing your fear will set you free.

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