By R. Nithya, Guest Blogger
I felt my head spin. It was the first time since my childhood that I was contemplating the possibility of sliding down a playground slide without my hands clutching the sides every second.
I was with three friends from work who were cheering me on to conquer my fear of slides – that day’s agenda for the lunch break.
Just as I expected, as I climbed up the slide, I froze with fear. And it felt so familiar. I felt this fear many times in my teens and now in my 20s. Yet I have a faint memory of myself as a child sliding with joy every time my dad took me to the playground. Back then, I didn’t fear sliding down, getting up, climbing up, and sliding down again. I failed to understand what changed from then to now.
“Slide! You can do it!” I heard my friends tell me.
But I sat there paralyzed with fear. And then I said to nobody in particular, “Maybe I have issues with letting go.”
And even as I said that, I knew it wasn’t the regular letting-go issues related to romantic love. It was something bigger than that. It was about leaving my comfort zone to experience something new that I desired.
I realized that so often, I didn’t do things because I feared that doing them would demand vulnerability and entering an arena where I wasn’t sure I would succeed or be safe. The thought of what lies on the other end of these things, or even just the joy of the journey, is so heart-warming that I find myself day-dreaming about them. I even take the initial steps to do them (like climbing up the slide), but I rarely stick till the end.
The fear that grips my mind is “what if I don’t succeed?” What if my worthiness is just an illusion? And what if I do succeed, then what? What if I end up feeling unsafe about the change I so desire right now? What if I do end up sliding, but the end of the slide doesn’t feel comfortable? Because of course it wouldn’t. How could any place be more comfortable than your comfort zone?
Often I gave up when I felt that I was going to succeed. I returned when I felt close enough to achieving what I set out to achieve. To many people, this might not make sense. But to many others, this is a reality that cuts deep.
But when we see a pattern in what we do or what we don’t, we’re able to begin to take stock of our fears. Often fears like these have no real existence. They exist just in our minds.
As my friends cheered me on, I let go and slid. I got up all excited to hug my friends. The slide didn’t break me. I was fine. I did five more rounds before going back to work.
I learnt that it’s not so much about succeeding, but about allowing yourself to succeed. It’s not so much about arriving, but allowing yourself to take this journey. Fears keep us playing small. They limit our journeys and sense of self worth. The way to end these fears is to just face them and see them slide away.
We’ll be fine. This knowledge is the only comfort zone we need.
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Nithya works in the communications department of an NGO in New Delhi, India. She finds meaning in writing, passion in feminism, and joy in becoming the best version of herself. Read Nithya’s writings here, and follow her on Twitter @rnithya26