A four letter word

Saturday, June 1, 2013

If there is one thing that I can say has ever held me back in my life it would be fear. Fear of failure, rejection, judgement, pain, heartbreak, heartache, change... Whatever the form, I have come to realize one thing in life.

Fear is very, very real. 

It is crazy to think that such a simple, four letter word could mean so much. There is one thing that I have been afraid of for as long as I can remember. It is embarrassing, and some people think quite silly. But I am afraid of dogs. Or at least, I was.

This fear makes absolutely zero sense to me, probably less sense to me than to everyone else. I have never been attacked by a dog, never bitten, never even scratched. But for some reason, the sight of one of those adorable, fun, loving animals has been enough to make me shake. Even the sound of metal clinging together, like the tags or keys, is enough to make me cower. If a friend invited me over to her house but she had a dog, I would not go. I would find some way to get out of it. I don't run around the lake by my house because that is a popular dog-walking destination. Even walking down the street, if I saw a dog I would turn around and walk the other way or duck into a building. But in all my searching, and in all my questioning about why, of all things, I am afraid of dogs, I have never found a definite answer. I think it's something that I will never truly understand.

Before coming to college, I decided that I wanted to try and address this fear so that it would not inhibit me from living to the fullest. I absolutely never want my fear to dictate who I am, and where I can go and what I can do. One of the most generous women I have ever known graciously agreed to help me become more acquainted with dogs. I learned a lot of safety habits to form around them, what to do if there is a dog that makes me nervous, and how to be assertive if I need to ask someone to hold their dog when I'm outside.

Over the course of the past few months, I have been diligently working on this fear. Today, I went to a picnic for the Colorado Basset Rescue, and I had SO MUCH FUN. I did not feel nervous at all. I pet more dogs than I can count, and got a lot of little basset kisses. :) I have such a feeling of pride for being able to overcome a fear that has been so limiting in my life.

While this may seem somewhat silly, it has much larger implications for me. This step has given me hope that if I can overcome this fear, I can overcome all of my other fears that have kept me down.

If there is one thing that I have learned from this, and if there is one thing that I really want to share with anyone who reads this, it is that your fear does not have to define you. Whatever you are afraid of, be it dogs, or fish, or spiders, or even something abstract like loneliness, or failure - you have it inside of yourself to overcome it. Start small, and keep working. It takes a lot of work, and a lot of faith, especially faith in yourself. No matter how long it takes, I promise that you can do it! If I can, you sure as hell can too.

"Never let your fear decide your fate." - AWOLNATION

As always, thanks for reading. <3

Love,
Zoe