Afraid what will people say?

Scaredphoto © 2006 Capture Queen | more info (via: Wylio)

I have a relative who is not very good with English. Although she wants to learn more about social networks, she will not write on my facebook wall because people will laugh at her funny English. This is a very small example of what people are ready to miss in life because of their fears. The fear can be of public ridicule or of non-complicity with social norms or family expectations. We avoid trying so many things in life, fearing what will people say, what will our friends and acquaintances think, how will our loved ones take it. I would like to make a case against it.

Consider the option my relative has taken. You never do what other’s will find strange, you are always an invisible part of the crowd, you never stand out.

This is how you will teach your kids to live. You will talk with awe, about people like Bill Gates and Sachin Tendulkar from your drawing room, as if they are beings from some other planet. You will never live, you would merely have existed.

If you find such a life OK, the rest of this post is probably not for you. I hope you don’t complain you keep feeling listless, aimless and bored every now and then. If you have accepted this life, have the spine to accept it fully, embrace it completely and be happy with it.

For those who live the above life but feel something is amiss, I have a few questions I would like you to ask yourselves.

Is there even a tiny voice inside you, telling you that you were born to be much more? That you are stifling your potential in your current situation? Who is holding you here apart from your own beliefs? What is the worst that can happen? Is this a mortal risk? Don’t you have faith that if you fall, you can rise up again, laugh at yourself and move on, just as you did as a kid? Why do you expect so low from yourself? Why has a sense of adventure and fun become so threatening to you? Don’t conformity and compliance seem boring? Is the risk of trying now, more threatening, or the idea of spending your life in this slow drudgery, becoming more and more lifeless every passing day, more threatening?

You owe your self a miracle. Remember when you first learned how to ride a bike or to drive a car? You were scared, but your eagerness was far greater. It was risky, you could have fallen down, gotten into an accident. But you still did it. Most, if not all of your friends learned those skills. You felt like the whole world was at your feet. Impossible was nothing. Would you not have done it for fear of being laughed at?

Most of us stop learning once we get into jobs, get married, settle down. Consequently we start forgetting to try, to strive for new experiences, just for the fun of it. We get into the social role of a ‘responsible adult’. WHY? Why was it decided that it should be so? Why is it so important to comply to this image? Does it really make us happy?

I’ll urge you to be courageous enough to decide for yourself. To do the things you want to do. Don’t fear, don’t be shy. Do it, experience life fully, stand up and feel the wind in your hair, rather than sitting on the sidewalk, trying not to stand out.

You owe it to your loved ones to act as an example. Whereas following the trodden path might keep your loved ones feeling safe about you, you owe it to them to get them out of their comfort zone. If you really love them and you know they have limiting beliefs, you should find ways to get them out of the comfort of those beliefs. The best way to do this is to set an example. Go after your dreams, even if they don’t want you to. It might be rocky in the beginning, but it will get better and better after that. You can’t change them by just trying to talk sense into them. You cannot make anyone listen, but you can create an example that is hard to ignore or deny. Do them this favor. Instead of complying with their ideas and letting them continue to live with their restricting beliefs, have the courage to follow your heart against their will. You may become the source of some, short term trouble for them but you will be showing them how much further you, and they, can expand.

Learn to laugh at yourself. Afraid people will laugh at you? Well then learn to laugh with them, at yourself. Stop taking yourself too seriously. Anyhow, laughing is good for health. You will be learning valuable lessons along the way too. How cool is that! This is more powerful than it may seem. The ability to laugh at yourself takes away so much from the fear of failing in public. And this means not that you take yourself lightly. It means you have the heart to take failure in your stride. It means, the equanimity of your countenance will not be shaken by temporary defeat.

You will find your true friends. If people try to demotivate you, it is an indication of their own insecurities. This is a good opportunity to find out whose company to avoid and whose to keep. You will come to know who really means you well and who is really compatible with the new, courageous you.

New help will arrive. You will recognize the real folks who were, till now, hidden in the crowd or standing on the sidelines. Many times, there are real gems of people somewhere in our circles, who will not come closer until help is really required. You only discover them when you make the leap.

Only those will fall who dare to ride the horse. Those who stand on the ground can only laugh at the fallen horseman but they never learn horse riding themselves.


  • Rakesh
    November 19, 2010 - 8:33 pm | Permalink

    A very well written article Rahul!. I want my brother to read this and learn :) Will be sharing this with him and my fiancée. Thank you for each and every post of your’s till now!

    • Rahul
      November 19, 2010 - 11:06 pm | Permalink

      Thanks as always Rakesh :) It gives me a lot of pleasure and satisfaction to see that my articles are affecting people’s lives positively.
      I admire how you care for your younger brother. I wish him well and hope he creates a life of happiness for himself and those around.

  • Jyoti
    November 19, 2010 - 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Nice article Rahul. Will forward it to some of my friends too. It’s important for any individual to get free of these restrictions to realize his/her full potential.

    • Rahul
      November 20, 2010 - 7:05 am | Permalink

      Thanks Jyoti ! I am lucky my wife is my biggest fan :)
      Hope your friends find it useful.

      • kingshuk
        November 20, 2010 - 10:06 am | Permalink

        hey dear, nice to see the post…

        • Rahul
          November 20, 2010 - 7:12 pm | Permalink

          I am glad you like it!

  • November 20, 2010 - 11:48 am | Permalink

    Thanks for that awesome posting. It saved MUCH time :-)

    • Rahul
      November 20, 2010 - 7:13 pm | Permalink

      I am glad it was of help.

  • ashish
    November 21, 2010 - 7:46 am | Permalink

    Interesting read!
    Complex things made simple…I liked the part about friends, it holds very true…wll try to implement it, then make another comment in some time.. Good Luck!

    • Rahul
      November 21, 2010 - 8:59 am | Permalink

      I am glad you like it Ashish. The company of friends we keep plays an important part in determining our attitude towards life. Our parents and relatives are not by choice, but our friends are. Choosing positive, motivating friends helps keep us positive.
      I look forward to listen to your results. Good luck to you too!

  • ashish
    November 22, 2010 - 11:11 am | Permalink

    well, not have been two days even..and I am writing back :)
    I am currently in Norway studying with students from around 10-12 different nationalities, and I tell you this is the problem almost all the batchmates face, due to the wide variety of knowledge and exposure..I was never the silent one, but I changed my strategy a little, earlier I use to get into finding depths of understanding with everyone, now I am putting efforts to listen to reactions first then taking time to decide whether and whom I should discuss in how much details- few people are willing to make fun of me, which concerns me a little, yet I am not willing to change this..I am in the super-confusion mode right now, but hope will find my way out soon, without much of loss, what do you say?

    • Rahul
      November 23, 2010 - 12:48 am | Permalink

      As far as I know Ashish, you cannot be compatible with everyone. There will be some people who will like your company and then some who won’t like it. Accept that it is fine this way. Variety is the rule of this world and keeps it interesting. Don’t try to be friends with everyone. For close friendship, look for those whom you like and who like your company.
      In spite of this, there are times in life when you find less of those people who will like you. This does not mean you will not find them later. If there is nobody you feel very close with, read the next point.
      Know that you don’t ‘need’ anyone to feel complete, you are complete in yourself. Sharing life with others is fun, but not a necessity. When you understand this you don’t approach others with a need to have friends. People like that and you have more of a chance of making friends. More than that your happiness does not depend on having friends.
      See this as an opportunity to build up your character and resolve for later in life. This phase will not last for ever, nor would the same people be there. But what you add to yourself from this experience will be.
      You mention some of them laugh at you. Their attitude may be reflective of their own insecurities. Smile at them and pass them by.
      One more thing I find very useful is keeping a daily journal. You can write in the evenings, you can reflect upon your day and see what needs attention the most, what is the best step you can take in this regard. Writing is very powerful. When you do this, slowly and steadily you see more clarity regarding what are the things that concern you the most and what are the next action steps you can take.
      Use law of attraction to manifest your desired results. If you really want more depth to your friendships, you just have to think about it and you will have it. Watch the video of ‘The Secret’, it explains the law quite well.
      Good luck!

  • December 23, 2010 - 4:37 am | Permalink

    This morning I read a quote somewhere that said “You were born original. Don’t die a copy.” And your post drives home this point very well. Nice post and a nice blog. Cheers.
    Srini recently posted..A Karma Yogi has one pointed mind Bhagavad Gita 241

    • Rahul
      December 23, 2010 - 6:39 am | Permalink

      That’s a very apt quote Srini. Thanks for adding to the post.
      I am glad you like this blog.

  • Karthik Puthur
    December 29, 2010 - 7:35 am | Permalink

    Quoting Steve Jobs … “Ask yourself, If you are going to die tomorrow will you still do what you are going to do today? If the answer is NO for a period of time, then there is something that you need to change in your life.”
    Actually thinking of the inevitable death I think is a powerful tool, it strips you of all fear, inhibitions, ego,pride and every additional unrequired baggage. The entire focus shifts towards sole purpose of life and how you want others to remember you when you are gone….

    Nice article Rahul!!

    • Rahul
      December 29, 2010 - 7:57 pm | Permalink

      This is a nice question to put to ourselves, puts things in right and clear perspective. According to Duane Elgin, Death is our ally(reminds us of the preciousness of each moment) and the Universe is our home(reminds us of the abundance of possibilities to expand and grow).
      Thanks for adding to the post Karthik. Keep visiting.

  • shalini dhal bisoi
    January 4, 2011 - 7:25 am | Permalink

    hii rahul..
    ur article is awesome…reveal s sme truth of life which we never accept..

    • Rahul
      January 4, 2011 - 9:36 am | Permalink

      I am glad you like it Shalini.
      You are right, it’s very difficult to accept that we live most of our lives based on approval from others. It takes courage and humility to accept our current situation, to accept that we don’t really like it and to decide to do something about it. But once we cross this threshold, the life of our dreams come so much closer and within reach.
      Keep visiting :)

  • Sandeep Aulakh
    January 6, 2011 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    Rahul – I have been reading your articles from quite a while. Believe me, you are doing a wonderful job. Keep up the good work and definitely you will be able to earn your bread out of it sooner than later.
    Now coming to this article. I liked it a lot !!
    I think how we are brought up, this fear of being socially accepted comes along with it. Many of my friends wanted to become photographers, dancers, musicians, painters etc but they never took the risk. The so called Indian Social Circle threatened, bullied and pulled them down.
    This fear of being socially accepted, what will people say, wear branded clothes, buy/do this as people around me would like is utter nonsense. I have seen people eagerly waiting for people to comment on/like their facebook posts. It feels they are living for others.
    ‘Learn to laugh at yourself’ and ‘New help will arrive’ are great points. I have personally experienced these things. Out of no where, someone you know will come for assistance.
    Again Good job mate !!

    • Rahul
      January 6, 2011 - 10:34 am | Permalink

      I feel the emotions behind this comment Sandeep. I have a feeling you sat and pondered for sometime, after reading this post and before writing this comment.
      I had always known you to be a fun loving guy. Never thought you could go philosophical :). More and more these days, I feel that each and every person on this planet is seeking fulfillment, everyone wants to break out of socially defined roles and expand into their true nature. Fear might be holding them back, but the inner spirit is still alive and kicking inside.
      Thanks so much for adding your ideas here. Much appreciated.

  • April 11, 2011 - 3:27 am | Permalink

    A thought provoking post, really!
    Prompts us to re-think the way we have been living.
    Rahul, you seem to have got it right, AGAIN!

    Animesh Ganguly
    Animesh Ganguly recently posted..A conversation with The Almighty

    • Rahul
      April 11, 2011 - 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Glad you like it so Animesh!

  • subbu
    April 29, 2011 - 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Great article..I cant wait to read all your previous posts and the ‘to be written’ posts! Keep it up

  • Kyle
    October 19, 2011 - 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Hi Rahul, I bet to say this article has encouraged a lot of people who ever has the luck to read it – counting me in.

    I just want to say thank you for all of your inspiring words and valued advices; I also understand helping people picking up a positive attitude to life makes you happy. :)

    Now reading a piece of your post has become one of routines after work, which is for sure a pleasure.

    Good night from Shenzhen, China. (11:25pm, 10/19/2011)

    • Rahul
      October 20, 2011 - 7:59 am | Permalink

      Hi Kyle,
      It’s always a pleasure to know that my writings here are a motivation to people. :)
      Best wishes.

  • valera
    January 22, 2012 - 11:50 pm | Permalink

    Rahul…U dont know how much your article has motivated me. Am a shy girl and it has cost me alot. I dont know how to deal with. I love to have a chat with cos i need advices.Tanks

    • Rahul
      January 23, 2012 - 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Glad to be of help Valera, and will love to do it again.

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