Illustration by Aaron Blanco

A word that can’t be aptly defined in any dictionary or book. It’s an emotion, an emotion powerful enough to blur logic and rational decision making. The one who has felt it, is the one who knows. Funny thing is, it’s a product of our own imaginations.

Try remembering the things you were scared of as a kid. Things that terrified you. Think, and you will soon find that most of them were just imaginary. Personally, like most other small children, I was scared to death by ghosts and darkness. Now, I know darkness is absence of light or photons(yes, I took science). And as far as it about ghosts, now I know they aren’t real(OK, maybe they are).

Fear is more like your first crush. You don’t know much about the person, yet you give them too much importance and respect in your head. Without knowing much, you end up thinking that they are your “ideal partner”. They seem so genuine in your mind, they’re perfect.
Now see fear from the same perspective. Without knowing exactly what it is, you make too big a deal of it in your mind. You make it the “ideal thing” that can kill you or destroy you.

Remember that mad stray dog? The dog that chased you, and you thought you were going to get bit? Well, that dog is fear. The moment you start running, it starts to chase you, but that’s the point! Running away was actually the reason you caused the dog to chase you. It’s a mistake we all make. Actually it’s more of a necessary step that confirms whether our fear is real or not.

Your fears are genuine. You might be scared to lose some people. Imagining a life without them might be terrifying, but does it make fear a bad thing? No. It’s actually the most important instinct we humans ever had. It’s the fear of losing something that makes you realise how valuable the thing or the person is, and this realization gives you a reason to continue fighting for it.

Don’t get me wrong. Some people want to “eradicate fear” from their lives, which is actually a tremendously stupid idea.
Imagine not being afraid of anything. You get a little frustrated over some issue, start getting suicidal thoughts and since you lack fear, you successfully attempt suicide! Now imagine another scenario where you come over your frustration and perform better next time. Sounds better, right?
In simple words, fear prevents you from killing yourself and further pushes you to evolve. The only reason you are alive today is because your ancestors survived the harshness of the world, and they survived because fear kept them away from doing stupid things.

But here’s a warning too: A lot of your fears are “meaningless”. Fears, that are not actually yours, but have been incorporated in you through outside agents.
There’s a line from poem Desiderata:

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Remember, it’s absolutely fine to be scared, but being scared of “meaningless” things? It’ll be a wastage of your precious energy and mental peace.

I remember my english teacher, Mr. David once said in class, “या तो मौज में, या तो ख़ौफ़ में”(meaning you do something either out of fun, or fear). Fear is a force, and force can be used both for constructive and destructive purposes. These words from Jordan B. Peterson describes it perfectly:

You want to get your fear behind you, where it’s pushing you forward, instead of in front of you, where it’s stopping you.

- Jordan B. Peterson

Watch this fantastic video in which Jordan B. Peterson explains how to get motivated by fear.

Fears are part of life. Accept it. NEVER try to be “less afraid”, instead try to be braver because you never get rid of your fears, you just learn to live above them.

Keep going, never give up.