On Sunday the 26th of december 2004, the bottom of the Indian ocean shook and the deadliest tsunami in history occurred. Waves taller than buildings crashed on the Indian coastline, killing thousands and leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Mumbai suffered great loss of lives and property, and by unfortunate coincidence; my father was in Mumbai at the time, working on an oil rig in the Indian ocean. By nothing less than a protection divine, he is still alive. However, in the time it took us to hear from him, my family knew mind-numbing fear.
A good number of people, especially in the southern part of Nigeria did not vote for the current president-elect. I do not speak for all of them, but, I do know that some of them did this in fear. Fear of the unknown in quote. The unknown being the candidate whose ideals are meant to have changed in the past few years.
Fear is one of the oldest and most primitive emotions experienced by animals. It is high up there wit the sexual drive, hunger and the like. Everyone, at one time or the other, or even perpetually, is afraid of something, or a number of things
Fear is what I felt the first time I had to give a speech here. Varying thoughts fueled that fear. What if I forgot what I wanted to say? What if everything got jumbled up in my head? What if you all hated me, and my speech? And the one which I’d say is one of my biggest, a haunting fear of failure.
Things fall apart is a book we all know, written by the man himself, the literary legend Chinua Achebe. In this book, the protagonist Okonkwo was an obsessive hard worker, overly agressive and ready to go to any length to ensure that he was seen as a real man, unafraid of anything. Despite this facade, we see that he was driven primarily by fear, the fear of being seen as an efulefu ie a useless man like his father. He did everything he could to be different from his father. So we see, even the strongest and toughest looking of us have fears.
Fear is as real as the ground we are standing on. The first step to using your fear for good, is acknowledging that you are afraid. Acknowledge the fact that the reason you stay away from people, may not be that you prefer your own company, but that you are afraid of their rejection. Acknowledge that the reason you haven’t started to write your own blog is not that “everyone is a blogger these days”, but that you’re afraid no one will like it, or worse still, that no one would read it.
After acknowledging your fear, then you can beat it, or make it work for you, not against. Fear is not necessarily the enemy, its merely an unruly tool with a mind of its own. Its not very easy to control what you are afraid of, and what you aren’t. What you can control is what you do with your fear, and what you do despite your fears.
A story in the bible comes to mind at this point. Hadassah was a Jewish woman. At that time, Israel was under Persian rule. Through a series of surprising events, she became queen of Persia and Medes. However, she kept her nationality secret from everyone. Then, there was a plot by one of the noblemen, his name was Haman, to murder all the Jews in all of the one hundred and twenty seven provinces of the kingdom. Haman got the King Ahaseurus to agree to this plot. Hadassah couldn’t very well sit by and watch her people wiped out, so she had to find a way to get to the king. But, here’s the thing, anyone who went in of their own accord to see the king would be killed, unless the king granted a special pardon. So going to see the king held grave danger, regardless of the fact she was queen. There’s no doubt she was terribly afraid, but, she went for it, as terrified as she was. In the concluding part of Esther chapter 4 vs 16 she said “so I will go in to the king, which is not according to law, and if I perish, I perish”. Courage, is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway-John Wayne.
So here’s the thing, fear is there, fear is a part of our lives. Claiming to be unafraid of anything is delusion. But, this doesn’t mean we let it paralyse us. We accept yhe fact that we feel scared, and do what we need to do despite it all. Then we start to see that, on that particular aspect, we are no longer afraid.
So I say, the greater my fear is, the prouder and happier I am, when I am able to overcome it. So despite the fact that I was afraid of different things about this post, including you thinking I am talking balderdash, I decided to write it anyway.