I vividly remember that summer when my well-meaning parents made me endure the torture of swimming classes. If I had to describe the experience in one word I would call it horrible (^1000).
Ever since my little brain realized that one of its functions is to store my memories, it has just stocked up on bad memories of swimming pools. Even as a kid, I wasn’t very fond of testing my swimming abilities in still water. It is not that I was allergic to water; I love visiting water parks…the oceans and seas being major favourites. But I just detested swimming pools. I feared them.
And fear is exactly what I am writing about today. The dictionary defines fear as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.” In my case the threat was imagined. But I was definitely, positively and surely afraid of those blue depths.
While I suffered from a very mild form of this intense emotion, other people around me are plagued by worse forms.
1) FEAR OF FAILURE: Almost everyone fears failure. It is that one dreaded word which spells doom for most. Mistakes are looked down upon and the guilty is often labeled incompetent.
What we do not realize is that failure and mistakes are essential to success. Errors do not taint achievements, they add to their value. No task in this world can be completed without a cycle of efforts, failures and finally success.
2) FEAR OF NOT LIVING UP TO EXPECTATIONS: Expectations, though often perceived as a source of motivation, can also make our life a living hell.
Children are worried about fulfilling their parents’ dreams while subordinates are always trying to live up to the expectations of their boss. It is of paramount importance for us to understand that we should just give our best shot. Nothing more, nothing less.
3) FEAR OF UPSETTING/LOSING SOMEONE CLOSE: This kind of fear is also fairly common. In small amounts, it is in fact good for every relationship. But when it takes unexplainably large proportions, it is the last nail in the coffin. Partners tend to become over-possessive. Frustration creeps in in the absence of proper dialogue. Such irrational fear often leads to a low self- esteem and lack of stability in inter-personal relationships.
The list can go on. We know that fear of any kind hampers growth. It might interfere with the psychological development of an individual. In severe cases, the victim might totally withdraw from society. Ever wondered why majority of the cases of child abuse go unreported? It is because the children fear rejection and ridicule. Why do many women still not report incidents of rape? Again it is because they are afraid of the society’s reaction and the mud- slinging which often follows. Why do young people often resort to death when faced with problems? They fear that they will not be able to take it. They are afraid of what the other people might think of them.
But my question is, is fear really all that evil? Is a certain amount of apprehensiveness not healthy? If we fear nothing, won’t we become careless in all our dealings?
Why is it that a mother often tell her kids that ‘bogeyman’ will come if they don’t eat their food/ don’t sleep on time/ don’t bathe properly/ don’t go to school? This way they are just teaching them to be scared of phantoms in their head.
In my opinion, a certain amount of fear is indeed necessary in today’s life. It only shows that we are concerned about people or that we think about the consequences of our actions. It keeps us safe by making us cautious. However, two things do need to be curbed/ changed:
1) The irrational fear which often comes to define a person. No fear should be allowed to take over our life and control our actions. True, I sometimes think that some ghosts might pull me off my bed in my sleep. But I do not let such thoughts rob me of my sleep.
2) The society’s attitude needs to be changed. Any kind of fear is not a weakness. The victim is not incompetent. It is just that he/she might have had certain bad experiences which force them to be afraid of certain things. They need help and support and not ridicule.
Fear itself is not the problem. The problem is the subsequent changes in the psyche of an individual. The problem lies in the attitude of the society which laughs at them. The problem lies in the lack of communication channels for the victim. The problem lies in our traditional way of using weakness as a synonym for fear and in our inability to understand that fear is a rational part of everyday life. He who says he fears nothing tells the biggest lie.
“Fear nothing but the fear which makes you fear this fearless life.”
Go fear J