The ‘F’ word

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It’s been close to six months since I finished my MBA studies. However, a lot of people still ask me if an MBA is worth the time, effort, and money. While I do not have a black and white answer, I think it was a journey of self-discovery for me in many different ways. The most important being coming to terms with my fears – some inherent and some imposed. But in this process of discovering and conquering fears, I have countlessly questioned the reasons for the very existence of them. What force of land gave birth to my fears? Or for that matter, why all of us at some point in life are marred by fears to the extent that we are left on the verge of losing ourselves? Have our fears really dethroned the four letter ‘F’ word that our generation knows so well?

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During the MBA program, for the very first time in my life I came across the fear of not being able to get a job in a foreign land. I had sleepless nights thinking of what would become of me if I did not secure a job? Will I be forced to work in India again? Will I be forced to the same career that left for MBA? Every single day, I was plagued with these questions to the extent that at times I was left mentally exhausted. But I could still not diagnose the reason for this recurring fear for months till the very end of the program. May be I was trying to find a cure to a disease with an unknown origin.

Today, as I look back at the past one year of survival and cure, I realize that all of us at different stages of life encounter fear in its two distinct form – an inherent fear and an imposed fear. An inherent fear comes naturally to us. It may be as basic as fear of heights or fear of spiders. But an imposed fear arises from the belief that one’s action will be judged by people and society in general. Think of an unprepared couple who is pressurized to have a child to avert being labeled as ‘impotent’ by the society. A gifted pianist born into a family of doctors is pressurized to study medicine to avoid being judged as ‘misfit’. A bruised wife is advised not to seek divorce to protect the dignity of the ‘family name’. And hence there is a mounting pressure to conform one’s action to the expectation of society to avoid a backlash. When I think of it more, I realize that our world is full of imposed fears and we struggle each day to live up to the standards out of the sheer fear of being treated as an outcast.

With so many instances in hindsight, I realized that even my fear was nothing but an imposed fear. Fear of being judged if I did not get a job, if I moved back to India and if I restart my career from where I left it. While an inherent fear may not be curable, but there does exist an elixir for imposed fear that I fortunately discovered at the end of the program  in the form of growing up wisdom that has made me unshakable and fearless of being judged. After all, there is no one who can judge us as better as ourselves! 🙂

PS – I am still afraid of heights and spiders.

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