By Amandla Karungi

I do not remember when I started being so afraid. I am told that I was a brave child, up until four years old. My first memory of real fear begins from falling asleep at my great-grandfather’s burial, of waking up and there was no one there, only to hear singing and see handfuls of sand upon sand upon sand.

I never fall asleep in the dark. I do not just see shapes of men and towering monsters, I feel their warm haunting claws gripping me and in one second my hand is on the light. No matter how far the light switch is from me, it always takes me one second to reach it.

But two weeks ago, almost twenty years after never sleeping with the lights off, I noticed that I had pushed the light switch off without hesitation.

I have been afraid of the unknown for most of my life and it has manifested in my anxieties, my apprehension to losing myself in the absence of colour. I hated the night, dreaded it, sometimes waiting until 5:00 a.m to sleep. I remember two months ago, I woke up to a loud wailing cry of a woman in pain. My heart beat so loudly that I thought whatever was chasing her would hear it. But still, I sleep without the light now. In spite of my fear, I walk into the night. Even when I startle myself out of sleep, I do not wake up with a racing heart, thinking that a ghost woke me, I breathe a prayer as my eyes lull shut.

I attended a party last Saturday night and even though I tried, I could not calm myself. I used to be hesitant about going out to “party” or really attend anything that was out of my comfort zone because I wanted to know how it would all turn out before I decided to go. I wanted to know how it all ends. However, this time I was the guest of honour and the work of being “out” was doubly burdensome. In many ways it played upon all my fears and insecurities and the nerves and nodes in my neck were on full flame.

I ended up with a glass of red wine spilled upon my white dress, uncomfortable high-heeled shoes almost slipping off as I walked, a nail being poked into my eyes and a room full of what felt like ice-cold figurines waiting for the show to come on.

I approached my fear and walked into the dark. And in it, I made my way and found my peace.

“The best rivals are not about the rival. They are about the insecurities your rival brings out in you.”
Jane The Virgin