I’ve never, ever, by any stretch of the imagination been fearless.

In fact, I’ve always had an abundance of caution, too much perhaps, more than the healthy amount that keeps one out of harm’s way.

As a child, my mom tells me, I’d always wake up from naps crying—terrified that I was in a room alone. Once, I tumbled down our carpeted stairs but was clinging to the carpet on the second step—the sheer fear of falling allowing me to defy gravity. I’ve always admired those who seem to be without fear of falling, of failing, of flailing.

It’s only been recently—after having a child, buying a house and changing careers in my 30s—that I’ve realized that “fearlessness” isn’t just the big things. It’s not about spontaneously throwing caution to the wind.

It can be not knowing whether you’ll be a great parent—or even a capable parent—but getting through each day with your child, slowly gaining confidence in your abilities. It’s what moms and dads do every day: They walk blindly into each new age and new challenge—potty training, puberty, college applications—with no idea on how to proceed but the steadfast belief that they will get through it.

It can be deciding to leave an established career—for me, journalism—to work side by side with those much younger (man, you haven’t felt old until you’ve had to Google slang words) in order to carve a new career path. It’s about knowing your worth in that new career path—for me, public relations—and knowing that even though those around you studied this field and know it, you bring another, different perspective that gives you an edge.

When I was pregnant, I thought that once I gave birth I’d have a newfound confidence in my physical body—and I do. I have been amazed by the sacrifice and pain I handled.

What I could never have imagined, though, is how it gave me a newfound abundance of confidence in my spirit, in my soul, as well.

Avani Nadkarni is a former journalist, a mother of one, and is determined to conquer her fears.

Avani Nadkarni Headshot

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