A colleague said to me,

You don’t seem to be scared of me.

I replied,

I’m not scared of anybody.

And I spent the rest of the day pondering that.

You never quite realize how much you live under fear until you break free of it. Afraid of your bosses, afraid of the government, afraid of your loved ones, afraid of losing face, afraid of being taken advantage of.

Scared child
Scared child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s true. I used to be scared of a lot of people. Even if I never admitted it, fear sat like a solid line above my head. It’s not that I’ve learnt courage. It’s that the fear has seeped out or evaporated. Like every experience riddled a tiny hole inside me, through which fear leaked & eventually ran out.

If you’re a woman, you’ve grown up steeped in so much of fear, fear, fear – fear of confrontation, fear of opposition, fear of disapproval, fear of abandonment, fear of a bad reputation, fear of judgement, fear of men, fear of women – this lack of fear is quite exhilarating.

I think the biggest fear most women have, is of something irreversible happening. Loss-of-virginity, marriage to the wrong man, childbirth (or not, since you’ll never be that age again and the bio clock is ticking) all fall under this. The fear looms huge like a monster, keeping you from making a decision. And back to the biological clock thing, there’s the fear that not making a decision will turn out to be just as bad a decision and just as irreversible.

There’s a conversation in Gone with the wind where an older lady observes that Scarlett has lost her fear. She also says that it is not a good thing for a woman to lose her fear. Women’s fears are the foundation of our social order. What when they are lost?

I’m just coming to realize that brashness is a result of this loss of fear. I thought about my last serious relationship. If I had feared hurting him just a little more and cared a little less about things like truth and fairness, things may have been different. Head over heart and all that. Still, that’s bygones.

The upside of fearlessness is really all that. Tremendous power and the energy that comes with it. Fatigue, boredom and ennui are indications of powerlessness. I experienced a rush of power and I think that’s fueled by (and adds to) being able to say just what I want, when I want, to who I want.

When the heady high dies down, however a hollowness returns. Hello fear, old companion, you’re back. It feels different though. This is fear of the world changing, of nothing seeming the way I thought it would be. But losing fear is an irreversible process, one that embeds itself in you. Once you’ve broken through, you know you’ll always be able to, again.

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose, right? And that includes fear.

6 thoughts on “Scared Of Nobody”
  1. I can’t help but wonder what prompted the (presumably male) to mention your lack of fear. It seemed just a little bit as if ‘he'(?) was surprised. That said: there’s plenty females I’m afraid of too …

    1. @petrujviljoen: Looking back at this particular male (yes!), I think it might have had to do with the fact that he was an extremely scared person himself. I think it astonished him to see someone with less fear. Also, his thinking was rooted in a very old-world patriarchal system so it was a double whammy for him to find a woman being less scared than he was, of the same things.

      And oh yes, of course, our world is full of success stories of the fear device used by the patriarchal system. Bad women bosses, tyrant mothers-in-laws, cruel mothers, bitchy ‘best friends’ are all women living their lives out through fear.

  2. Every time we have to make a decision,fear plays a part.At the back of our mind,we always have this fear of making the wrong decision.I wonder what it would truly mean if we can be rid of this fear?Now that in itself is a scary thought…….

    Rashmi

    1. @rahminaik: We fear the loss of fear? πŸ™‚ Now, that’s an interesting thought.

      I must add though, that the loss of fear is not the same thing as indifference. For example, I have stage fright and a deep-rooted fear of speaking in public. Over the years, I’ve learnt to deal with it. It’s not that the fast breathing/butterflies-in-stomach feeling has gone completely. It just doesn’t stop me in panic and keep me from doing what I need to do. On the contrary, it helps me stay alert and deliver better. I think that example holds true for most other things as well.

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