See the thing about fear is that it can seem bigger than you.
What’s funny is that most fears actually start as tiny little thoughts. Minor what-ifs, really. They sit there, festering and gestating, coming and going, becoming bigger, asking for more attention and whining if you don’t give them any. Far from giving them attention, we ignore them. Ask them to bugger off and come another day.
And yoohoo, they do. At which point, we have the audacity to actually be surprised. We expect the another day, to be an other day that is not today. We act petulant. We keep asking the fear to go away, until such a time as when it becomes louder and more demanding, and then we try to negotiate with it about its it next ETA.
Like a deadline that we’ve forgotten, we’re astounded, annoyed, and frustrated when it shows up again. We then try to actively, and rather stupidly, run away from it.
Stupid, I say, because the one thing that we cannot do (and yet, most of us do do), is run away from anything in our own minds. The longer we run from it, or hide it under our beds, the bigger the imaginary monster gets. It grows in size, new and shiny claws pop out, and if you leave it unattended long enough, it starts to speak in strange, scary tongues, with added spooky background music for effect.
I had one of these episodes recently. Mine was called Cold Feet (here on referred to as CF). Unlike the most well-known type of CF (the wedding bells variety), this one was rather unusual, and therefore one that I took time to recognize. You see, quite contrary to the wedding bells variety, where you’re shitting bricks about committing your whole life to someone and wondering if you’re making the right decision, my CF was my fear of committing to myself.
Surprised? Yeah, me too.
Here’s the story of my CF—
A couple of months ago, I finally decided to do the thing I’ve been thinking about doing for a while now— live by myself. I had been running around house to house, broker to broker, landlord to landlord, on my new-house hunting expedition. I had done this before, but the difference this time, was that I had to do it all by myself. As I’ve outlined in this post, I’ve always had a problem doing anything by myself (or rather, without company—which if you really think about it, is a different kind of problem, really).
When I started this, I wasn’t sure if I was looking for the right things in these houses, or if I had been talking to the right people, or making the right decisions. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to answer the preposterous questions that landlords ask you.
(Example1: Why does a single girl in Bombay want to live alone?
Example 2: Will you have many parties in the house?
Example 3: Will you get married and move away soon, you think?).
I also wasn’t sure if I would know how to pick the right refrigerator, or know if I got duped while getting the carpenter to do some minor repairs (actually, this one I still don’t have answers to).
I was just beginning to realize what I’d taken on.
It hit me, full scale, one morning a few days before I was to move in. I was supposed to meet the landlordman that evening to give him 11 post-dated cheques, and sign a contract with ONLY my name on it (how adult is that!).
And hence came the full descent of the CF. Because, dear god, will I be able to, or more importantly— do I really want to do this! ALL.BY.MYSELF!
Eating by myself, cooking myself, handing all responsibilities- big and small- BY.MYSELF. And the worst of them all, SLEEPING all by myself in a house. Oh, the horror!
I’m feeling hot and cold even as I write this (a watered down version compared to that day, I’m pleased to report).
But here’s what I did to battle my CF (it was the plan for today anyway. I believe in baby steps)— I wrote. I wrote about how this felt.
As I wrote it, I felt like I was, in part, conquering my fear. Or rather, telling it, that it’s silly, by doing something that reminds me of why I’m doing this at all. I was reminding me of the good stuff.
I sat by myself in an empty apartment with a suitcase full of books (it was the first and only thing I brought there that evening :) ), and my laptop, and I typed away in a silent house. I listened to the trees rustling outside, felt the wind come in (I have HUGE windows in my living room, whee!), and reveled in the sound of the tippy-tap of the keyboard.
I realized that this was one of the things I’ve wanted for the last few months. Nay, this is what I’ve craved for.
I’ve wanted silence. I’ve wanted just me. I’ve wanted my words, and my very own world.
And so here’s the conclusion to my theory on fears— you don’t banish them, and you don’t even need a grand plan to conquer them. Instead, what would maybe work, is to just show them the good stuff. Tell them that while they are very much real, so is the good stuff.