I’m pissed off with fear today. I’m pissed off because today, fear made me cry and I really hate it when that happens. It doesn’t happen often and actually I can’t remember the last time it did but I’ve been feeling a bit singled out by fear lately and as a person who prides myself on facing fear, getting slapped in the face by it, can leave me feeling pretty sore.
I’m currently staying on an island called Koh Lanta in the South of Thailand. I’ve been here for two weeks and I’m volunteering at an animal welfare centre. This type of volunteering is not for the faint-hearted, we do six, 6-hour shifts a week and between us we look after 28 dogs and over twenty cats. Most of the animals are stray and at some point in their lives have been injured or abused.
I chose to volunteer at an animal welfare centre because I love animals and grew up in a house full of them. We always had a clutter of cats and over the years we also had pet guinea pigs, rabbits, birds and a dog. My favourite animals have always been cats and dogs and until recently I could never decide which of the two I preferred.
Today I decided that I’m a cat person. This morning, as I was putting a harness and leash on a dog and taking it out of the kennel for someone to walk, another dog escaped and started attacking the dog I had hold of. There was no one else around and I was really struggling to keep the two apart.
Dogs are pretty scary when you are stood in-between two that are growling, snarling and biting. Eventually I got them apart and there was no need for tears but the incident shook me up. Minutes after I took the original dog outside to hand over to a dog walker, I came back into the centre and burst into tears. I hate being scared and I think I was more upset with myself for panicking than I was about the actual incident.
I had already been feeling a bit nervous around the dogs, they are all adorable in their own way but they have, as dogs do, a tendency to bark and growl and fight each other. The other volunteers don’t seem to have the fear I do around the dogs and after months of being told by people how courageous I am for quitting my job to travel around the world solo, I felt pretty stupid for getting so stressed out about a couple of gnarly dogs.
As I calmed down and got some perspective I realised that fear is relative and fear is subjective. I know that there are lots of fears that I have faced that other people wouldn’t even attempt to and vice versa. I also realised that if I’m to have any chance of overcoming my fears, I have to, at the very least, be on my own side. Beating myself up about why I’m more scared of some things than other people is not only futile but it’s also destructive.
Today, fear taught me yet another valuable lesson. It doesn’t matter what frightens you, it’s how you deal with fear that’s important. Respect it, face it but never deny it or feel ashamed of it because believe me, it will kick your butt.
What fears have surprised you or caught you off guard? Are there fears that you feel embarrassed about? Please let me know in the comments below and if you liked this post, please help me out by sharing it using one of the buttons below.