How I overcome my fear

I was born in a remote, scenic village of Pakistan. My father was a teacher in a city roughly 700 miles from our village where I lived with my mum and my siblings for the first decade of my life. My dad was an amazing person. Distance never eclipsed his love and care for the family.

Being the youngest among my siblings, mum loved me more. She was always there for me, for better or for worse. Life could not have been better – eat, play, sleep. I was so intrigued by life that for even a single moment I never thought things could possibly change.

But they did.

At 10, I found out that my mum was ill. She had cancer, but I was too young to be told. For the next 2 years, all I hoped was, that she would be fine one day. This hope died when it dawned on me one night that mum was no longer there for me. I sat down in a corner of an empty room and asked God, why her? I stared at God, asking the same question again and again. And all I heard was silence.

The unthinkable has happened.

The part of me that was filled with mum’s love and care was suddenly replaced with fear. That little boy sat in an empty room was just thrown out of the cocoon of mother’s protection. The feelings of vulnerability wrapped around me. For several years to come, I carried along that scared little boy inside me.

Fast forward, I finished my education and got a decent job. One day, my manager asked me to do a presentation in front of a sizeable audience. I knew of that scared boy inside me who always stopped me from saying ‘yes’ to people. Unwillingly, I said yes. Before the presentation, I spoke to that kid. I said, hey, listen! if things don’t go well, that’s fine. Be brave.

But that boy didn’t listen.

The power of fear overcome the power of determination. My heartbeat thumped on the stage, I sweat, I wavered, I messed up.

Nine years ago when I was 31, I immigrated to England. This was the time, I wished I had a ‘reset to factory settings’ button. Just to reset and start afresh with a clean slate. And somehow, empower that 12-year boy inside me to overcome fear. Unfortunately, we humans don’t have that button.

So, why do I need to clean the slate?

The more I explored myself, the more I realised that my learnings have come through lenses – fear and its by-product, prejudice. Many of the ideas, perceptions and paradigms were tinted with that prism. I call it, complex learning. I wanted to unlearn. Wanted to relearn things without any tinted lens, to grasp untwisted realities of life.

Finally, I found a way. A way to reset bit by bit, not a hard factory reset. I did two things. First, I started talking to that boy almost every day. And every day I told him to defeat the fear. Every single day I told him to be grateful. Every single day I told him to be better enough to fall in love. And eventually, that kid started to laugh and play. He shattered the walls of fear. Now, he smiles when I play video games or eat ice-cream.

This led me to my second step.

I segmented my concepts about life – politics, religion, society, relationships, etc. And started reading with an open mind. A mind that does not collude with fear. I started talking to people with fresh perspective. I challenge myself and I challenge people about various concepts. I challenge because I’m not afraid anymore.

Today, I feel rejuvenated. I feel empowered. I feel grateful. I’m blessed with an amazingly loving and kind wife and a gorgeous, bright son. I run a successful start-up, for which I have raised over half a million pounds and built great teams. Above all, I speak my mind.

There may not be a hard reset button. But you can always find a soft reset button inside you.

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