Fear is a very natural emotion. There is nothing to be ashamed of about it. It is the most obvious reaction and it makes us realise our fall-backs and find our strengths.
But when fear becomes an obstacle rather than a constriction in life, and when it is rather irrational it is so much more of a necessity than choice to defeat it. Running away from Fear is never a good option. It will follow us wherever we go. We need to face it and overcome it to reclaim our life, our worth and victory that is ours.
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We all have such stories to share where we had our devils to fight, our own battles to win and our proverbial territory to claim.
The demon I had to fight in my student years was stage-fear. I was a very studious, witty and out-front student. I never even batted my eye-lids when I had to ask the teachers a question, express a doubt, stand by my friends or even clarify my actions. I don't recall as to why, but I used to freeze before the mike and audience on stage. My words would get caught in my throat, my mind would go blank and after few minutes of hopeless struggle I would retract with a feeble "thank-you." I had even given up enrolling in such competitions after I failed three or four times.
But one incident which stands out is when my favourite teacher in higher-primary school enrolled my name for a speech competition on her own accord for she had observed my communication and expressive skills and believed I stood a good chance to win. For her sake I willed myself one more time, and prepared with all my heart and soul. I even rehearsed before my family and friends to subdue my fear. My sister had even adviced me to not look at the crowd but at the wall behind them.
But when the big-day came, and my name was announced, I had only gone past the initial acknowledgement of the judges, teachers and students present, and the topic at hand when a wandering glance at the gathering made my lips go dry, my thoughts wayward and my limbs cold. I stood there glancing from my favourite teacher in one corner, to my friends in the crowd, to my sister in the far corner. Tears began to blur my view and words completely unconnected to each other stumbled from my mouth trying to make one proper sentence. I never felt stage-fear more strongly or more real before then. It was me versus my fear...and my fear won.
I couldn't even manage a sorry or thank-you. I simply stole away my eyes from all those who knew I had prepared a good speech and had expected a good show, and retired to a corner seat trying to with-hold my tears for I didn't want any more attention.
My parents and friends were sympathetic towards me after it was over, my sister spent hours discussing the whole disaster trying to find an antidote, and my favourite teacher didn't even as much as mention a word about it. She was just as usual. It was as if I had not even participated. I couldn't decide if her silence was more hard on me or her remarks would have been.
But i had never felt more humiliated before my own self, and it had me I began to participate in every competition, debates and assembly slots I felt up to. For me, it was a matter of my self-esteem now. I didn't care if I won or lost. I didn't care how other participants performed. It was my battle against my fear and I had to win over it.
It was not easy. I fumbled, I failed, I lost everytime but every time I also progressed a little further on, maybe a minute, a paragraph, a point or almost to the end, but every time I fought a little longer and every time I felt my enemy become weaker.
My liberation came in the form of the special personality-building lectures and work-shops my high-school arranged for us in our matriculation year, and finally when I joined my graduation course. The lecturers, classmates and ambience were so friendly and fostering, my strength and confidence grew stronger and stronger. It gave me a whole new perspective and platform. I took part in personality development courses, several seminars, projects, debates and competitions and also won quite a handful prizes and trophies. But i would rate my crowning glory to be the day when I graduated.
It wasn't required for me go on-stage, nobody expected me to nor forced me to do it. But I was so grateful to my Almighty, my parents, my sister, my friends and my teachers who had supported me through all my ups-and-downs, showed me the light and never let me give up.
I went on stage by my own will before the entire college- staff, administration, lecturers, students, their parents and the special guests and gave my thank-you speech without fumbling, without missing a word and without stealing my gaze from the audience.