“What are you afraid of?”
This has to be one of the most commonly asked questions. Instinctively, I say, “lizards”. People laugh at that, and say that it isn’t a *fear*. Some of them happen to be aware of the dedication and passion with which I chase after a lizard, broomstick in hand, when I see it lurking outside my room.
They ask me about things that terrify me and leave me momentarily disoriented. And I tell them that a lizard IS that thing. I try to avoid further interrogation. You see, I have learned that your fears make you vulnerable, and that your fears must be guarded well.
Vulnerability was my fear. I say ‘was’ because I happened to be going through the phase where you’re at the brink of adulthood, weighed down by the pressure of emotional maturity.
I had few friends, and I was convinced that it was because I had successfully erected a safety wall around myself.
The impenetrable fortress of closely guarded secrets where nobody was allowed to enter.
Luckily, I managed to sail through the phase unharmed, my emotional (im)maturity very much intact. The adult in me decided to take a leap of faith, and I started to share my experiences, secrets and fears with someone, realizing how futile those years of fortification had been. Of course, lizards continue to remain what I’m TRULY scared of. You’d be, too, if you could see the streak of evil in the spherical eye embedded in that brown, scaly skin.
But there are a whole lot of other things on my list. There’s a secret list, too, that I do not discuss with anyone. But vulnerability is not on any of the lists anymore. Sharing my fears has enabled me to accept them, to laugh at how ridiculous some of them are, to pat people’s backs when they have the same phobias, and most importantly, to understand and be absolutely sure that my fears will never make me vulnerable.