Before talking about living fearlessly, I have to talk about my fears. Some of my fears were really tiny. Like mustard seeds. A long long time ago, so long ago that I don’t remember how old I was, I was in the kitchen helping my mom cook. She asked me to pour oil in a pan and add mustard seeds to it. And if you have ever put mustard seeds in hot oil you would know – they splutter and fly out of the pan and go crazy all over the stove. On that particular day the mustard seeds I dropped into the pan acted normally. They spluttered and flew and one went right up my nose. It burned a hole in my nose and made me lose my olfactory senses for a whole month! Nah, not really! If that had happened,I could justify my fear of mustard seeds for years to come. But all it did, given that it is a tiny thing, this mustard seed, is hurt my nose for a few minutes. That’s it, I said to my mom. No more mustard-dropping-in-the-oil for me. You are on your own. So much so that whenever she would reach for the mustard seeds, I would dart out of the kitchen. I did not cook with mustard seeds for years.
Well life has a way of showing that you can’t live your life in fear forever. Not if someone hurts your pride anyway. Pride overrides fear. At least in my case it did. My husband’s parents were visiting and I had made sambar sans mustard seeds. And of course they noticed it. They decided to rectify the error and to perfect it. So when I was away, they added mustard seeds to my sambar. It made me furious. No one improves upon my sambar! Well, but that was the end of my mustardophobia. I am happy to inform you that I now cook with mustard seeds. Thanks to my in-laws!
Second on the list of silly things I was scared of was the salon. For a long time when I was younger, people remembered me for one thing – my hair. My long, thick, black, silky hair. My whole family was proud of my hair. It was like it had a life of it’s own. Anyway one fine day I decided to chop it off. So I marched off to a salon with a friend in tow and chopped it all off. My family was furious. Nobody would speak to me. And what did I do? I decided that I would acquire a fear of salons. Classic case of misplaced emotions, don’t you think? The next time I went to the salon was before my wedding. I did not let them do anything drastic to my hair. Just a trim. They did facials and manicures, pedicures and waxing, threading and tweezing. After the wedding I broke out with millions of pimples all over my face and back. It was the worst acne attack of my entire life. It had to happen because of my fear of salons. And kept me out of them for another 10 years.
One thing you can’t escape when you are out giving advice to everyone (take risks, be bold, don’t be afraid) is that you become aware of your own fears. There was a disconnect between what I was asking others to do and what I was doing in my life. So one fine day I decided to go to the salon. I was scared but I just went ahead and did it and it felt good. I felt like the shackles were broken and I was free again. Fear keeps you stuck, immobilzed and keeps you from living life fully.
My biggest fear of course was my fear of driving. I feared that I would lose control and end up hurting myself and my kids. This fear had a strong hold on me. Then I took my husband, a distant grand aunt, a bunch of good friends and a funny driving instructor to shake it out of me. Now I keep wondering what I was afraid of!
Now again I’m at the crossroads. Not sure if I should start my own website. What if it is a flop? What if no one reads it? What if I run out of ideas? And fear grips me at every turn. But I laugh in the face of danger and trudge ahead. I have decided to live fearlessly. Live fully and give fully. What will you do to live fearlessly today? Is it a mustard seed or a truck that is holding you back?
Damayanti Chandrasekhar lives in Florida with her husband and two children, loves yoga, baking and the Tao. She has a Masters degree in Journalism and currently volunteers at the local public school. Her other interests include reading, travelling and playing agony aunt via her blog www.punctuatelife.com.