All it takes is a bit of courage

Udaya Pillalamarri
2 min readAug 29, 2020

I was involved in a terrifying air travel experience as a child. We were returning home after a fun vacation trip and had a layover in Hong Kong for few hours. It was closer to midnight when our captain decided to take off in the midst of a storm that engulfed black skies and city lights alike.

We were still in ascent when the plane hit an air pocket. Years later, I would come to realize “air pockets” as the most misunderstood term in aviation travel. They’re not pockets devoid of air, but our plane encountered waves at different temperature, pressure and moisture conditions. We were truly never in danger, just went through turbulence that our pilots absolutely knew how to handle. However, at that moment in time and space, our plane dropped a few feet. Or so it seemed to me.

One moment my sister, sitting next to me, and I were chatting. The next, we couldn’t feel our seats. We felt lifted upwards against our seat belts. I remember bags being thrown about, my sister crying and a feeling at the pit of my stomach which I attributed to fear.

What do you do when called upon to face your fears? How do you show up for yourself when faced with uncertainty?

My child self did not utter a word during those moments. I’m a classically trained vocalist and in that instant I turned to the one thing that could give me comfort — singing. I held onto my sister’s hand tightly and started singing a song my guru had taught the both of us. I forced her to sing with me. It was over in a matter of seconds, but it’s an experience that defined me and one I draw upon when in need of courage.

My adult self now is starting a journey lined with uncertainty. It took me a long time to realize that my life had hit an air pocket. I had been falling for a while, ensconced in fears and doubts abound. Doubts of self-worth and will to be more. Fears of change, loss of familiarity and loneliness. The funny thing I’ve noticed is that time is cyclical — challenges could be new but underlying issues are most often the same. So I know I have all the skills I need to stop myself from falling. That it would take a little bit of courage, along with a smidgen of hope and pinch of strength to say enough, stand up for what I want and move forward.

And the only hand I could possibly hold onto tightly on this bumpy ride ahead, is my very own.