In Re: Fear

I once came across a chapter on fear in Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi. Let me quote an excerpt—

“I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease. It begins in your mind, always. One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy. Doubt meets disbelief and disbelief tries to push it out. But disbelief is a poorly-armed foot soldier. Doubt does away with it with little trouble. You become anxious. Reason comes to do battle for you. You are reassured…”

Admittedly, this was exactly how I felt when I entered law school. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer, but wanting to become a lawyer is different from being a lawyer. I was not prepared for graded recitations, daunting professors, and the heavy workload for every subject. Every day became a constant battle with fear—fear of getting bad recitations, fear of getting low scores in quizzes and exams, fear of being judged by my peers and fear that maybe law is just not for me.

But let me tell you this. Fear is not a bad thing. As long as you don’t let it control you or consume you to the point of paranoia, fear is a good feeling. When you think about it, fear always goes hand-in-hand with hope, courage and willpower. For every low score that you get, there will always be hope that you get a higher one in the next examination. For every condescending stare and comment that you get from your professor, there will always be the courage to face him or her in the next round of recitations. For every depressing thought you’ve had since you started law school, there will always be the will to survive and face another day. You’ll continue this cycle of emotional ups and downs but before you know it, you’re already in your fourth year.

Law school takes guts. It is not for the faint of heart because it will entail sacrifices that other people will not understand. You will want to give up and just leave your fate to the stars. But it is that constant prodding at the back of your mind that will remind you to get up and study. You will encounter fear and it will be up to you to defeat it.

Fear is not unique to law students. Everyone feels fear in different degrees. I guess that it is the only thing that truly hinders us from being better. When we learn to control our fear, all of our other actions will follow. I am not trying to be Paolo Coelho-ish here, but we do take fear into consideration when we make decisions or choices. However, let us not forget that we also have the power to defeat fear.

What drives me to write these? What motivates me to get up every day? What pushes me to get that coveted diploma? Well, fear—I can gladly say.

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