Face your fears

I don’t plan to make this a long one. In fact the idea is to reduce the length of my posts. It seems like every time I start writing, I end up with an essay. After all this is a blog, not a magazine.

So I just finished watching a great talk by Ruchi Sanghvi, the first female engineer at Facebook, who recently started her own gig, Cove. She talked about facing your innermost fears and overcoming the internal inhibitions and make things happen. You can achieve a lot by just letting go of fear of failure. This is a very simple theory, yet very difficult to practice.

Whenever someone talks about this theme, I go back in time, and remember how my father and I let go off our fear of failure and strived hard to make our wish come true. I did not grow up with a dream of studying in the US. I could not even dare to dream that big. I knew my limits. But it was my brother-in-law who pushed us to let go of our fear. He kept reminding us that there is nothing to lose. He insisted that I give the GRE and get an admit, and forget about how the tuition will be arranged. He gave me the same advice the day I was going to write my GRE. He said, “Forget about the outcome, just go and give it your best.”

I was so naïve back then that I was afraid I might end up wasting the $200 in GRE fees, if we were unable to secure a loan for my program in the US. I wrote my essays and my applications, sitting in dark internet cafes in a remote town near Nagpur, where the internet would crash every 20 minutes. I did not have the best resources at my disposal to prepare for the exam. All I had was an old library that had decade-old editions of Barron’s. I was the only one writing the GRE in my peer group, so I had no study groups either. But just as he had advised, I let go of the fear of failure and gave the exam. It was probably the first exam I wrote without the fear of outcome crowding my mind. I did just fine.

The morning of my visa interview, my Dad and I talked about it again in the car, on our way to the US Consulate. He said to me, “We dreamed so big, we might crash. But at least we’ll know we tried. If we fail, it will be my failure, you will still win. Give it your best. At this point it is just a roll of the dice.” The dice rolled in our favor, and I came out with tears in my eyes. All I could tell him was that “We won”. 

All I need is a peek into my past, to recollect that I have always fought my fears well. And I can keep fighting them still. It would have been nice to have him around to give me a boost. But I still hear him in my mind, telling me “Go for it!”

3 thoughts on “Face your fears

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