Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Peacebuilder? On Decisions, Fear, and Taking Risks

Akhila Kolisetty
United States

"I want to be the woman who flies fearless into the unknown nevertheless, armed with a sense of casual self-confidence and a deep inner conviction that everything will be just fine. "


Ah, yes. The shallow pounding of the heart, the sweaty palms, the sudden inability to focus on the task at hand. The overwhelming feeling that everything might be lost, at any moment now.

Fear. A sadly familiar friend of mine. My worst enemy, turning me from a confident woman to a cowering child unable to make her own decisions.

For me, fear of risks has framed some of my more unfortunate life and career choices. Spontaneity and risk-taking are not my fortes, unlike many of you jet-setting international development professionals and human rights activists who fly to conflict zones to report on ongoing wars and genocides. I want to be that person, but I worry I’m not and never can be. I want to be the woman who flies fearless into the unknown nevertheless, armed with a sense of casual self-confidence and a deep inner conviction that everything will be just fine.

But no, not me. Instead, I am a chronic worrier. As I try to sleep, my worst fears force me awake. I ponder the choices available to me, rapidly glossing over the pros and fixating on the cons. And at the last minute, my fears overpower me, preventing me from making – perhaps – the right decision. I am paralyzed, like my favorite protagonist, Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock, a patient etherized upon a table. Like Prufrock, I have “time yet for a hundred indecisions / And for a hundred visions and revisions.”

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair— [...]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all;
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

I am a wishful dreamer and endless optimist stuck inside a pessimist’s mind. The glass half-empty is my cage. My fears enslave me, forcing me to measure my life in coffee spoons.

A loved one recently told me, “Don’t make your decisions based on fear. Make your decision based on the positives. Ask What can I give back instead of What is the less scary choice. What would you do if you were not afraid? Go out and do that."

But it is far easier said than done, isn’t it, to take fear out of the equation? I’d allow myself to dream of going to Afghanistan for the summer, but then come crashing back to earth when I see 2 American Troops Killed in Shooting on Military Base and UN Staff Withdraws from Kunduz Province and UN Compound Set Alight. It is easier said than done to remember only the peaceful and lovely moments I witnessed there – speaking with young girls about their dreams of being a doctor, laughing about Hindi film stars and the latest Bollywood movies, enjoying a mango drink and chips at Bagh-e-Babur, seeing a spectacular view of the Hindu Kush, buying trinkets and a rug in Chicken Street – while disregarding the chaos and fear that is prevalent in the U.S. news channels today. My experience there was full of learning and beauty, but how can I ignore what might be an alternate reality I could descend into come summer? Read the entire article here.

Views: 25

Tags: Bagh-e-Babur, Development, Frontlines, Hindi, Kunduz, Kush, Peace, Province, Risk, Voices, More…X, from, the, women, work


You need to be a member of Peace and Collaborative Development Network to add comments!

Join Peace and Collaborative Development Network

Sponsored Link

Please Pay What You Can to Support PCDN

Please consider Paying What You Can to help PCDN grow. We encourage you to consider any amount from $1 and up. Read the SUPPORT page prior to making a payment to see PCDN's impact and how your payment will help.

Sponsored Link

Translate This Page


PCDN Guidelines and Share Pages

By using this site you're agreeing to the terms of use as outlined in the community guidelines (in particular PCDN is an open network indexed by Google and users should review the privacy options). Please note individual requests for funding or jobs are NOT permitted on the network.

Click BELOW to share site resources Bookmark and Share
or Share on LINKEDIN




Latest Activity

Global Foundation updated their profile
3 hours ago
Waris Ali Chaudhry posted a status
"I am getting ready to attend the Rotary World Peace Conference 2016 at Ontario Convention Center,California,USA"
3 hours ago
Waris Ali Chaudhry is attending Rudy Westervelt's event

Rotary World Peace Conference 2016 at Ontario Convention Center

January 15, 2016 at 8am to January 16, 2016 at 10pm
3 hours ago
Craig Zelizer posted discussions
5 hours ago
Profile IconAmanda Esons, Ana Biurrun, Sonia Bhandari and 5 more joined Peace and Collaborative Development Network
5 hours ago
Craig Zelizer's video was featured

New Video from Masterpeace Be a Nelson (Take Action for Peacebuilding)

Published on Aug 27, 2015 You are more than your Money. Your Likes. Your Pity. Your Shelter You are YOU... and this is the best thing you can give ‘Give People In Conflict Areas The Best Of You’ A fresh new face for our successful ‘Be A Nelson’…
11 hours ago
Craig Zelizer shared their video on Facebook
11 hours ago
Craig Zelizer liked Craig Zelizer's video
11 hours ago

© 2015   Created by Craig Zelizer.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service