The Wall Of Fear

Photo by Yaoqi Lai

Looming up,

An insurmountable wall.

It glories in her defeat,

Rises in her fall.

 

But she has something

Worth fighting for.

She may lose all her battles

But she will win the war.

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Spunk

Photo by Chris Sardegna

She had so much spunk,

That she made oceans out of

The beads of perspiration

That formed at her head

When she looked ahead

At the series of lifeless days

That were coming.

As she acknowledged

The reality of what was to come,

She promised herself

That acknowledgement

Was not acceptance,

And that she refused

To passively wait

For days and months and years

For courage to arrive

And turn her life around.

She refused to simply look

Out of the windows

Of her cage-like dwelling

At the long road that led there.

She stopped waiting

To hear the doorbell

That would spring her into activity

And instead

Got to work herself.

Bracing herself for the tough task,

She started shaking the chains

That tied her to the weight

Of imagined obligations

That no one expected anyway.

The chains were hard to break

But at least they rattled

And betrayed the signs

Of inherent weakness.

For her, for now,

That was enough.

Seeking Solace In Your Past Self

Often, in moments of fear or anxiety, I go back and read my old blog posts; the ones about bravery and growth and optimism.  I smile a little, nod a little, but a lot of times, I just wonder. Many times, I start reading and get lost in the words and suddenly, I realize that I’ve been reading the words as if they are by some stranger, when in reality, they are mine. Was it really me, who wrote these uplifting words? How did I know then?

I used to think that knowledge and experience are things that only grow with time. What I learnt once would be remembered always. Maybe that is not always true. Maybe “knowing” is an ever-changing entity and you may gain something several times and lose it as many times too.

trust yourself......

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Maybe growth does not always mean adding to your reserve of strengths. Maybe it just means that it evolves continuously, and the what was once a strength may as well be a weakness now.

I have a love-hate relationship with crossroads and decisions. I like to believe that perhaps everyone does. I like the anticipation of beginning something new. I love that the thought that what may be coming may be wonderful and colorful. But at the same time, there is of course, this fear of choosing the wrong road, and ending up lost. What if that path was better? What if that school was better than this? What if that branch was better than this? Am I in the right place? Am I going in the right direction? Am I making the decisions which will lead me to that life? The one that I have planned?

In retrospect, my past self has always chosen the paths that ultimately turned out to be for the best. Sure, I may have certain small regrets, but by and large, I suppose I am right where I should be. And yet, whenever the time comes for something new, I’m terrified. How did my past self make all these big decisions? How in the world did I know? How did I stand so bravely in the face of all those changes, all those challenges? I feel awed by that self.

Maybe some day, I will read this again. And maybe I’ll have a clearer idea of what it all meant. Maybe someday, my present self will be a solace to the one in the future.

Not Being Able To See

In A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson, there is a scene, where the protagonist, Ellen is being interviewed by the principal of the boarding school where she has applied to be a housemother. At one point, he asks her what she fears. And she replies, “Not being able to see.”

Being blind isn’t what she meant. She meant being limited by something (prejudice, love) to be able to gain a clear perspective on a situation. Basically, she meant that she was afraid of being ruled by own emotions, her own fixed ideologies.

I’m sure that many of us struggle with this. There has been a time period in my life when I was so consumed by what was supposed to be, that I failed to see what actually was. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had problems with perfection. It was particularly bad during this period. I had such a clear vision of a Plan, that I couldn’t (wouldn’t) accommodate any curve balls. Admitting to myself that I tried something and failed isn’t easy for me. It’s not about other people; I don’t accept my own failures with an open mind. And this is the reason why I could only see my so-called “failures” instead of what I had actually achieved.

Today when I look back at that time, I realise that the situation wasn’t so bad. It wasn’t like my life was doomed if just one single thing went wrong. My plans weren’t that off-the-track that I couldn’t redeem. I know now, that I could have avoided a lot of pain, tears, irrational fears, had I been able to see.

Today has been one of those days. You know, when nothing seems to be going right. When your judgement is addled by mood swings. When your own view becomes so myopic  that everything seems a disaster. I was agonizing for half a day about what was going wrong with absolutely everything. For the major part of the day, I could only see the flaws.

And then I stopped. I decided to let life happen, in its own way.

It’s so easy to become lost in the perfect picture of the future. I’ve mentioned before that I make a conscious effort at trying to be in the present. It still doesn’t come that naturally. But I try.

I fear it too; not being able to see. Because I know what that kind of narrow-minded worry can do to me. Instead, I try to let out the steam; cool off, call up my mother and rant about people and things that she barely knows. But I try not to let that anxiety sit in my heart. It’s better to be annoying to others for a little while than harm yourself with worry. People who are close always understand.

Self versus Self

I can’t.

I can.

Of course, I can’t.

Maybe I can.

What am I saying! I can’t.

I should probably try.

What’s the point in trying?

What’s the harm in trying?

I don’t know… I’m so afraid.

Of what?

Of letting myself down in front of others.

Letting myself down? Or in front of others? Which one is the major issue?

I think the second one.

You do realise that’s stupid to the point of hilarity, right?

Easy for you to say. After all you are the eternal optimist.

Easy for you to disregard me, you being the eternal pessimist.

Is the glass half empty or half full? The pess...

Is the glass half empty or half full? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The battle continues. I wonder if it’s like that for everyone. I wonder if everyone is plagued by extreme versions of themselves. Who wins, then? My pessimist made an appearance rarely in the past. Who knows? Maybe it’s because I haven’t had to make difficult decisions or take too many risks before. But the pessimist, when present, is potent and dangerously influential. My poor optimist’s claims come in bleak tones; I’m hardly able to hear her over the loud proclamations of the pessimist.

I think my pessimist is actually afraid of listening to the optimist. Because that would require her to take risks and put herself out in front of others, making herself vulnerable.

The pessimist first made an appearance some four years back. It was immediately after my optimist had had a huge victory. At first, the optimist didn’t really pay attention. But the pessimist was sneaky, and made her way into my heart slowly. Her roots became so entrenched that the optimist was forced away, and after a few feeble attempts, left me for two whole years. Ruled by the pessimist, I made mistakes, huge mistakes. I lost my peace of mind, my self-respect, love for myself. I became that person who needed others to assure her worth.

Two years passed, the time and the situation changed, and my optimist made her way back to me. But she was badly hurt, and couldn’t banish my pessimistic self out completely. Hence, since then, I’ve lived with both of them inside me. There are moments where both co-exist peacefully, but as soon as the time comes to take decisions or risks, a fight breaks out. And more often than not, the pessimist, supported by her deep roots, wins.

My optimist is questioning me today. With beseeching eyes, she’s asking me what happened to that girl of four years ago. She’s asking me why I let the pessimist win. She’s too powerful, I’ve answered. But it wasn’t so much her power as much it was my weakness. The previous years spent with the optimist have taught me not to have too many regrets, and believe me, I’ve tried very hard to not let go of that policy. But somewhere deep down, I regret losing against the self that was destructive to my personality.

I’m still afraid. The optimist tells me that it’s okay to be so. She tells me that it’s not about failing. It’s about conquering the fear. It’s very difficult to do so, she says. But not doing so makes the rest of the life even more difficult.

The battle is still on. But after a really long time do I see my optimist fight back with strong conviction. I hope she wins this time. I hope I won’t let her down.