I had missed my train two days before this incident, so I was determined to not allow history repeat itself. I got to the station an hour before departure time pleased with myself. I had planned how I was going to get back to school and unwind after a hectic week of travelling. Have you ever heard the saying, “if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans”? While planning how my evening would go once I returned to school, I had no idea what the rest of the day had in store for me. I walked over to the board that displays arrival and departure times and was confused. 5:33 was not there and I was beyond certain that that was my departure time. 5:33am. I had booked a 5:33am trip rather than a 5:33pm trip. I felt a range of things…frustration, exhaustion, and stupidity but had no time to dwell on emotions. I quickly bought a miraculously cheap ticket and was soon on board the next train to a station close to my destination. I remember sitting on the train and reflecting on the unanticipated trajectory of my day, when I heard an announcement. There were issues with the tracks at my final destination and we were made to alight the train at the next station. I thought it was a bad joke until I found myself wandering around station platforms in a town I had never heard of. After some time passed, I was able to get on another train going near my school’s station. As I was looking out the window lost in thoughts of regret (“If only I had booked the right train”), I heard someone ask if he could sit next to me. I wanted to be alone but the answer ,“Sure”, rolled off my tongue. Fatigued by my journey, I placed my head on my bag. “For I know the plans I have for you”…that Bible verse (Jermiah 29:11) was engraved in white on his matte wristband that caught my eye. It spoke to me so I decided to speak to him. With “Where did you get that from?”, I initiated an hour long dialogue with a random guy on the train.
When we started talking about hobbies, I mentioned Youtube. I told him about how that is something I would love to do but it is totally out of my comfort zone. He told me two things to allay my fears that I remember till date even though this event occurred over a year ago. From my talk with him, I understood that there were two reasons why I was reluctant to leave my comfort zone; I cared about what people think and I was afraid. Thank God the former is a thing of the past so let’s talk about the latter. The first step to overcoming fear is realising that there is a difference between fear as an emotion and fear that results in an action or hinders it. As humans, we feel fear as an emotion. I think it is natural to feel that emotion. What is not natural is the part that entails action. Our experiences with people and life in general have taught us to act on our fears and to not take action because of it. The second step? We need to unlearn this. So feel the fear but do what you’re afraid of anyways. It’s just like allowing what you have little to no control over run its course (the emotion) and taking control where you can (the action).
My conversation with him partially inspired me to start this blog, even though this is also out of my comfort zone. But what really is a comfort zone? It’s the place where dreams die. It’s kind of paradoxical that it’s called a “comfort zone” when it can be such a dangerous place to remain. We need to rid ourselves of that desire to stay within that zone; don’t let fear keep you there. Fear only has whatever power it has because we give it that power. The power of fear lies in its ability to conceal possible truths from us. It would never tell you that things might just work out, that you might actually succeed, that even if you try and don’t get your expected outcome, it’s just redirection to a greater good. We strip fear of its power by reminding ourselves of endless possibilities such as these, that await on the other side of fear. Start that project, take that class, approach that person first, assume that responsibility, apply for that internship; do the things that scare you. We unlearn fear by defying everything it tries to teach us.
“A crazy thing happened — the very act of doing the thing that scared me undid the fear”- Shonda Rhimes
“The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear”- Mandela
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything-all external applications, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure-these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important”- Steve Jobs
(In a video called “Stephen Colbert and Anderson Cooper’s beautiful conversation about grief” on Youtube, Stephen Colbert expands on this thought-provoking perspective on life. Worth Watching!)
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