“Once bitten, twice shy”
“दूध का जला छाछ भी फूँक-फूँक कर पीता है।”
These are some of the proverbs we have practically grown up hearing and, unfortunately, all of us have been “bitten” at least once and, in most cases, multiple times in our lives. All of us experience minor failures every day without realizing their impact on our psychology. At times, these so-called minor failures have such a huge impact on our confidence that we can hardly gather courage for a second try. Every New Year Resolution that we are not able to fulfill leaves us with slightly less confidence in our ability to achieve goals. Each promise that we make to others but are not able to keep, not only impacts the trust others place in us, but also makes us lose faith in ourselves.
Consider a slightly serious example. I remember from my childhood, one of my friends who was learning to ride a bicycle and having a time of her life while doing it. Unfortunately, she almost had a collision with a car and got shouted at by the car driver for no fault of hers, while a mute crowd stood around throwing accusing glances at her, a 10-year-old child. After that, she was never able to gather enough courage to mount a bicycle again and till date regrets not being able to ride one. But before we go forward with this article, I will, predictably enough, take a break and announce the Featured Story and Featured Author for the month.
Featured Story for the Month of May 2012 is Shrikhand Mahadev Yatra by Sandeep Panwar, popularly known as “JatDevta”. This highly succulent, entertaining account takes you through the remote green peaks and valleys of the Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh, dodging life-threatening situations and, yet, effortlessly making you smile. Click here to read the 14-part series if you haven’t read it already.
Featured Author for the Month of June 2012 is D. L. Narayan, who joined Ghumakkar in November 2011, and since then has written for us 10 beautiful stories, including one very helpful Insights article about the very relevant Plagiarism. Apart from his vivid tales from both domestic and international destinations, he is also appreciated for his thoughtful and positive comments and interactions at Ghumakkar. So do congratulate him and also click here to read his stories, if you have missed reading them earlier.
And, now, coming back to the tale of the girl who gave up riding bicycle – she hasn’t yet gathered courage to give it another try. What makes it even more sad are the avenues she never explored because she did not give herself a second chance considering that she was getting to be quite good at it when the unfortunate incident happened. She could even have become one of the few women cyclists of India. You may think that I’m taking it too far, but you never know! It is sad what fear does to us.
Such challenges present themselves to us travelers all too often. When I had travelled to England for the first time, I was fresh out of an awkward teenage and, moreover, the flight to England was my first flight ever. Excited yet apprehensive, I fumbled my way through the check-ins, security checks, immigration checks, a long flight, and unfortunate interactions with foreign airhostesses. The stay in England was not too pleasant as well. I happened to cross ways with some rude locals and, moreover, my handbag, in which I was foolishly carrying my tickets, my camera, my mobile, and even my passport, was stolen right in front of the Buckingham Palace. The next few days were a nightmare while I lodged an FIR, tried to get travel documents so that I could get back to my dear country, and got my tickets re-issued. I longed to get back to the security of my parents’ house and felt that the entire world was my enemy. At long last when everything was sorted out, I returned to India and vowed never to go back to England ever again.
This was all a long time back but I carried those bad memories and the harsh opinion about the country for quite some time. However, it is said that we are here to learn. And our experiences, our interactions with our surroundings and people we chance upon in life teach us a lot. More importantly, we grow up and so do the people around us. But we don’t take this into account when we tell ourselves “I am never going to do this again.” Secretly we often blame ourselves for the failure even if it is not our fault. Similarly I blamed my inability to cope with International environment for my bad experiences in England even though I never had the courage to admit that to anyone or to myself. Instead I went around badmouthing England to anyone who cared to listen.
One strange fact that I have learnt over years is that you can be mediocre at something for two reasons – either you are not trying enough in the right direction or you are too good for the task. While in my encounter with England, the former was the case, another of my friends suffered because his case was the latter. He was just too good. In school, he used to be a mediocre student, often failing in one subject or the other. But none of his teachers could ever put him down as ‘nalayak’ because everyone knew that inside this disinterested, floundering child was a brilliant mind capable of thoughts far beyond the children of his age. So he was designated as the editor of the school magazine. But as fate would have it, he failed in his boards and had to change schools. I happened to talk to him a couple of times after that and he sounded dejected and very unlike his old self. The school system had taken its toll on his impressionable, sensitive mind and he had told himself that dreaded “never”.
However, I chanced upon him again a few years back and was happy to know that he had completed his Masters in Philanthropy. And now he was not only writing for several major magazines and journals, but was actually working in Afghanistan as a consultant for a development project. Undoubtedly here was someone who had bounced back after being defeated; someone to take inspiration from.
I would be lying if I tell you that meeting this friend transformed me overnight. There were many other factors and several years of growing up involved in the process. And a couple of years back I began considering going back to England once again. I wanted to give the country and myself a second chance. And sure enough, this time it was a completely different experience. I met some of the most interesting people while I was there and saw so many beautiful sights that they made me change my view of the country completely. And in the process, I also got over my fear of international travel.
In my opinion, the proverbs that we talked about in the beginning aren’t “Once bitten, always shy.” and “दूध का जला छाछ भी नहीं पीता।” for a very good reason. These are actually meant to urge us to be careful but to go ahead and try again. The message is not only about learning from our mistakes but also about giving ourselves a second chance.
What do you think? Should my friend who gave up cycling give the sport a second chance? Do you have any such incidents of your own. Feel free to share them through the comments if you do. They might prove to be an inspiration for someone just like my friends were for me.