4 Indian Women Who Choose Love Over Fear

4 Indian Women Who Choose Love Over Fear

Fear is the biggest nemesis of love. It is, however, simultaneously also the biggest substitute of love. “I am someone who has always been very afraid of pretty much everything … It’s just been a lot of fear that has led my life,”says 22-year-old Bengaluru-based musician and song-writer Aishwarya Suresh.

Fear, again, is something that’s really fed to us. As children, we are often just curious. However, as we keep growing up, somehow, curiosity gets replaced with fear. Maalavika Manoj, a Mumbai-based musician and song-writer who has been releasing music for the past 10 years cites the ‘Imposter syndrome’ as one of her biggest impediments. “Being an artist, you constantly have Imposter Syndrome. You always feel like there’s a million other people who are better at the job than you are and that you don’t deserve this.” On being asked what she loved the most about her childhood, she said that she loved being curious about everything.

Photography Credits - Lekha Rathnam

Says Aishwarya, “I am not alone in this dance with fear.”

She certainly is not alone in this. In fact, quite a lot of us fear not being loved or accepted by people who mean the world to us. This fear leads us into the toxic trap of constantly changing ourselves to please them, often, without even considering the repercussions the constant and endless effort would have on ourselves.

29-year-old lecturer, stylist, model, social media blogger, wearer of many other hats, Neelakshi Singh from Mumbai says, “I was apologetic about just about everything. … I was so much about pleasing my parents, my friends … to the extent that it became difficult to come to terms with myself.” Growing up, Neelakshi was diagnosed with Bulimia—a fact that didn’t go down very well with her family. Hitting puberty much later than other girls her age only aggravated her distress. All of this left her with body-image issues and enkindled in her the fear of failing to obtain love.

It was only after meeting her best friend in college when she decided that she needed to apologise to her own self for putting herself through everything and more essentially, for moving on from that point.

Photography Credits - Simon Gandhi

Roshini Kumar is a Mumbai-based photographer, body-positivity and self-love, mental health and LGBT+ rights’ activist, who, in her own words, does “everything I can’. A proud cancer survivor, Roshini’s words above are reminiscent of how common it is to lose our own selves when fear beckons us. “A few months back, I would probably prioritise something else, even if it meant putting myself maybe in a position I didn’t want to be in … I was also prioritising people who were not prioritising me. I would always put them over me because I thought that since they meant so much to me, I had to.”

Photography Credits - Rishi Raj

But, what if we were actually able to overcome fear?

One day, inspired by a Jim Carrey speech, she asked herself if she wanted to live the rest of her life being someone who is “led by something as derogatory as fear.” And so, she says that she chooses love because it stands for a lot of things to her including being stronger than what she gives herself the credit for.

Roshini says, “I spent years getting here. You will have to take the step. You just have to realise that you don’t need this validation. You don’t have to keep trying to please these people because they are never going to be pleased. So, you might as well just please yourself!”

Photography Credits - Rishi Raj

Neelakshi, who says that body positivity is still a practice admits to giving in to the conditioning of validation. Yet, remembering how far she has come makes her move from “strength to strength.”

Of course, while it takes a little bit of a push to grow, as Maalavika says, but again, it’s important to forgive yourself for all those days when you were not as nice to your ownself as you should have been.

And so, why not forget fear? Forget that there are people watching and judging because who are ‘people’ if not all of us? It’s sometimes grounding to remember that we are ‘people’ to someone else too, and so if all of us were to start believing in ourselves and shedding our fears, we could all probably become ‘people’ who love, people who are not afraid of themselves and of one another, and even not afraid of “staying in bed, watching The Office, doing nothing, and putting up pictures of pimples” and just being their goofy selves as Aishwarya does.

Photography Credits _ Rishi Raj

Feature image - (L) Rishi Raj & (R) Simon Gandhi

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