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That Which Shaped Me

My submission is a culmination of the lifetime of experiences that have shaped me. It is personal and honest and means a lot to me.


Fear, as a word, means much more to me than it can define. As a typical Indian kid, I grew up in shared spaces among many watchful eyes. My definition of fear has changed all throughout my life.

As a kid, one of my earliest memories is visiting a dam. Seeing the vast reservoir at the brink of water, introduced me to my first fear, the fear of water. More than water, the fear of the unknown and the sinking feeling came with it.

When I was about 10, fear was changing cities and moving to a new place. It was the apprehension that came with making friends and fitting in.

At 12, it was the fear of Mathematics and not being cool enough. Fear was suddenly looming in front when I first talked to my crush. It was butterflies in my tummy and sweaty hands.

At 15, fear was loud and scary. You see, at that time, fear joined ranks with apprehension and danger, and caution. It rolled into one when I realized I was now a target of the male gaze, and my every step was seen and heard.

My every action withheld consequences equated to my familial honor. At a time when fear should be my looming exams and approaching deadlines, my fear was the length of my skirt and the color of my skin.

At 18, I realized that my fear wasn’t mine alone. It was my mom’s depression and my dad’s unemployment. It was my brother’s rebelling. Suddenly, it was encompassing and riveting. It captivated me and led me to believe it was alright, even when it wasn’t.

At 21, my fear is my boyfriend’s fear of losing his parents. My best friend’s fear of her life being confined to societal norms. It is my parents’ fear of growing old. My brother’s fear of not being enough. In the end, fear is much more than a sinking black hole or a red, angry circle. It is now present in my dreams, my aspirations, my hopes, and my wishes. Because what can be more frightening than living itself?

After all, my fear is now a part of me, omnipresent and all-knowing. It is now pastel with hues of white, soft, and free-flowing. It now longer defines me but is now represented by me. It rests when it wants to and takes charge when needed, but above all, it is now.


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