Recently, I was miffed when someone accused me of sending out wrong signals, and thereby for being responsible for my public perceptions. The information was uncalled for. I never asked for any opinion, and hence should be hearing one. However, I was informed. And I was miffed.
So much so that it sort of spoiled the beginning of my day. Then, I got thinking. He was right. I did send wrong signals. Not consciously, but sub-consciously. I like the ambiguity. I like the anonymous. It irks me if someone reads me. And that’s the reason I was miffed at that someone. Because he indeed read something from something so very small.
Then I thought some more. That the reason I like the ambiguity, is because that gives me room. Room to change, room to alter my boundaries, room to redefine myself. That is the ultimate goal of survival I guess. To change. To expand, to sustain things which one has never imagined.
Perhaps this is a glorified version of my thoughts. And the non-glorified is that I am afraid. I am gripped by fear if someone reads me well, which is contrary to our constant internal quest “to be understood”. But the fear bit has to do something with my fear of being manipulated. Hence, I want to project a harsh me, so that noone should take me for granted. And that is my fear.
This brings me to the topic I want to delve upon – fear. I have just had a job-change. Well into the first few months of this new workplace, I have faced this demon. Whether successfully or not, is debatable. I have no clue. There is no way to measure that. And this demon resides somewhere deep into our conscience. It rules how we behave and what we achieve in our life – from the small things to the big ones. From waiting our turns to speak in a public forum, to taking the plunge into the unknown. We are afraid of the unknown. But unknown is not the only thing that rules our fear. It has something to do with ego. Ego is the image we have of ourselves. The image we think we are projecting. The image we strive so hard to maintain. To keep it un-bruised, intact. We fear; what people will think? How I will be read? Will I be taken for a ride if I let down my shield? Will they think I am dumb? Etc. So, what’s the other way of living this life? Should we just abandon care for others and live and speak what we want? We cannot live in this social world with no regard to people and do what we like. We cannot live without having perceptions of anyone or managing our own. It is like a mirror mirroring ourselves from the outside. But the problem is that many times, that mirror is functioning so robustly, that we forget what we really are. And the focus is on mapping the mirror to the external environment.
Earlier, I have faced these fears I mentioned above on joining a new job, new surrounding and a new work place. The people, the place, the system, the growth opportunities, etc. The questions are million. But this time, there was none. What had changed since my last change, I wonder. On something so intangible and unquantifiable as fear, there is no way of knowing what has worked. But I only have a feeling that perhaps, the mirror mirroring me is displaying things that are aligned with my personal quest of just being happy. And hence, these external, momentary fears do not waver my sense of self. This does not mean, I am not gripped by fear at all. I am. Constantly. At all those instances I mentioned above – when I am picked to speak in a room full or eyes, when I am sitting before someone who has the authority to evaluate me, when I think of a blank paper with many things on my mind, when my freedom seems to be at stake, etc. But, now I try to be conscious of the changing nature of this fear, I try my best to overcome it.
One friend had told me long ago. That he was continually surprised by my behavior. By how I change so very often. And this fondness of change is the reason that I get carried away. I get carried away and dream up half of my reality when something touches my conscience. When something inspires me by giving an insight into a situation. And that opens so many doors to be a new me.
Aung Su Kyi wrote a beautiful speech on “Freedom from Fear”. She of course speaks mostly from the democracy point of view. But it can very well be adapted to our lives. Here is a quote: “Fearlessness may be a gift but perhaps more precious is the courage acquired through endeavour, courage that comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear dictate one's actions, courage that could be described as 'grace under pressure' - grace which is renewed repeatedly in the face of harsh, unremitting pressure.”