I started going to school on my own since Primary 3. Unlike Singapore, we did not have convenient transportation back in my hometown. Although it is a small, neighborhood city, it did take about 40min walk from home to school for a 9 years old kid.
I enjoyed the walk, though. As my school started at 7:30am, I usually left home at 6:40am, when the sky was still dime. I was not afraid at all - as there were so much to see during the early time of a day: the cleaners were out on the road and making wonderful musicals with their brooms and brushes; several strange birds were flying in the sky with a rare “Blu-blu-“ sound; some businesses started early, and I could secretly spy how the shopkeeper was decorating their window display; the dim sum restaurants were open, too. The smell of the first batch of steamed buns was so fresh that it made my mouth full of drool...what was even more eye opening was the snowy days - the weather was cold enough to freeze all the water on the road. The surface of the frozen paddles reflected the first sunlight, from pale yellow to a purplish red. How beautiful! So, you see the reason why I was not afraid to walk on my own at all.
But a day came when I didn’t want to go to school on myself anymore. My mother was busy so she asked my grandparents to send me to school - but that didn’t help much! They didn’t know the deepest fear in my heart.
A rumor was spreading among my schoolmates that a stalker riding a bicycle had been wondering around the route I usually took to go to school. “Many girls were attacked during the past three months. Their ages range from primary school children to adults...” I was very afraid, but I had to get to class on time. I did feel safer when my grandparents were around, but they couldn’t make it every day together with me.
One morning, I received a call from grandpa that he was sick. That meant I had to get to school alone. It was a cold autumn morning. I walked very fast with an even faster pounding heart. “It was almost there, it was almost there. “ I murmured to myself. Finally there was the last 5min walk - to pass through a tunnel.
Well, it was not technically a tunnel but a canopy formed by dense trees. The leaves were so thick that they covered almost the whole sky above. Midway across the tunnel, I suddenly heard the bell of a bicycle behind me. A men’s voice was calling, “look back, stop, young student...” All my blood froze. My palms were drenched with sweat. An icy chilled down my spine, and my stomach was rolling faster than ever. What could I do? What shall I do? Someone came to save me!
But no one was around.
Just at the moment, I heard a sound, “Blu-Blu-“. It was the strange bird! My body was suddenly fueled as I ran at my greatest speed towards the sound.
The bicycle ringing became lower and lower behind me. But I didn’t notice. I darted pass buildings and trees, until I ran into a familiar face of my classmate.
Why am I writing down this experience at the end of a year? Because there are several key lessons I want to carry forward:
Voice out your fear to the people who understand. Convince them about your feeling.
I could get better protection if I confessed to my parents about my fear. Even if it was a rumor, I shall not think it’s embarrassing for me to worry about it.
By the time I heard and began to feel concerned about the rumor, I did not do anything except for worrying. Back in time, I could do more preparation against the potential danger.
Ask for help whenever necessary.
Fear shan’t be a lonely journey. Open up and talk to people. The younger me ended up forming a small group with several other classmates to walk to school together every day. We felt braver and more powerful as we united.
Run as fast as you can.
Nothing explains it better than the quote from “Bojack Horseman” - “when you get sad, you run straight ahead and you keep running forward, no matter what. There are people in your life who are gonna try to hold you back, slow you down, but you don't let them. Don't you stop running and don't you ever look behind you.”
Last but most importantly - Accept your fear. It’s OK to be afraid. But be creative when you walk away from it.
I could hardly believe that someone is really “fearless”. As humans, fear is one of our common emotions. If you happened to be a fan of Disney’s “Inside Out”, you may be familiar with this line from the Fear character, “All right! We did not die today, I call that an unqualified success.”
After you get off the fearful experience, throw the memory into the dark tunnel behind you. Cheer yourself up and embrace the beautiful things.
To a bravery 2020 and breaking fear!
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