I am deathly afraid of cows. So afraid that just hearing a mooooo makes me break out into a cold sweat. So afraid that I can’t walk by a pasture without my eyes constantly scanning it, looking for ‘the enemy.’ So afraid that I have nightmares about them at least a couple times a month. So afraid that, when picking out the image for this blog, I had to pick one that wasn’t a real cow. Viewing the others made my heart race. I am deathly afraid of cows. Why?
I think that part of the reason is because I was kicked in the stomach by one when I was little. My grandparents had a dairy farm and my sister and I would often go up and help them milk. One day, I must have moved too fast or otherwise startled the cow, causing it to kick me in the gut with its hoof. Oddly, I don’t remember the pain as much as I do my grandma and uncle running to make sure I was okay.
Fast forward about 20 years and I was renting a home from a different uncle. He also had cows. One morning, I was letting my two dogs out before work. That’s when I noticed a bull had gotten out of the fence and was standing in the yard. Because I lived on a fairly busy road, I felt it was important to get it back in. I called my uncle, no answer. I called my cousin who lived next door, no answer. It was all up to me.
I grabbed a few pears that had fallen from the tree it was under and threw them in the pasture to try to lure the bull back in nicely. He wasn’t having it. Trying to remain calm and not show my fear, in the sweetest voice possible, I started talking to him. I figured that if he could see that I was actually a good person, he wouldn’t try to pummel me to death. I was wrong.
Before I knew what was happening, that bull dropped his head, scraped his hoof, and started charging toward me. I shit you not. It was like something you’d see in a film. I’m not sure how I did it, but I ran faster than that bull. Fortunately, there was a trailer in the yard for me to jump up on and, as soon the bull got to it, he pivoted and turned. I had been spared.
Within minutes, my uncle arrived. He’d received my phone message and came to help. How that 80-year-old man was able to convince the bull to get back in the pasture was beyond me. All I knew was that my legs were shaking uncontrollably and my fear of cows was firmly set. Why am I telling you this?
We all have fears. We all have the one or two (maybe more?) things that absolutely shake us to the core. The things that, if given a choice to face that fear or die, it would be a tough decision to make. However, we can’t let that fear stop us from living our lives. We can’t let it win.
Does this mean that I should run to the nearest field, find the meanest-looking cow, taunt him, and then stand my ground? Well, no. That would make me incredibly foolish. Cows can — and do — trample and kill people. If you don’t believe me, just Google “cow attacks.” It is very enlightening, and more than a bit scary!
That said, I can say that I don’t let my fear of them stop me from living my life and having new experiences. I still go to county fairs, I just keep my distance from any of the cattle barns. I also recently visited Fort Worth, Texas, which is home of the longhorns. These are the most menacing of the cow family, with horns that extend a few feet on either side. No, I didn’t ride one, but I did walk past a few and that’s a major accomplishment for me!
My point is that, while it’s natural to have some fears, we can’t let them limit our quality of life. We can’t let them control us to the point where we are unable to function. Where we are unable to move.
I think about this all of the time when running my business as a freelance writer. There are so many times I feel afraid, yet I still have to move forward anyway. I fear that business is going to dry up, that my clients are suddenly going to disappear, or, worse yet, that I’m going to disappoint one of the companies I work for and they’ll be unhappy with my work.
I am constantly battling these types of fears, but I don’t let them stop me. In fact, I’m using them to make me better. Because I fear that my business could dry up and my clients disappear, especially in times like this when the coronavirus is devastating many businesses, I have found a couple other companies I’d like to write for and have reached out to them. Because I fear that clients could be unhappy with my work, I’m constantly building my skills and learning new things, making me a better writer and businessperson.
What are you afraid of? What are the one or two things that scare you to the bone? Are these fears stopping you from living the life you want to live? If so, what can you do to start to overcome these fears? What small steps can you take so you can begin to move forward?
Let me be clear that some fears are good. Like the fear of jumping off a roof and dying or the fear of poisonous spiders. By all means, stay away from those kinds of things as they could injure or kill you. But if you have a fear that, like mine, can be potentially hurtful yet usually is not, don’t let that fear control you. Instead, find a way to work with it so you avoid the danger but still live a fruitful life.
And if your fear is so big that this task seems impossible, maybe it’s time to get some professional help. Talk to a counselor or therapist who specializes in fears and phobias. There’s nothing wrong with reaching out to someone in an effort to begin to minimize your fears. If it helps you feel better and stronger mentally — if it helps you build your grit — then it’s worth it in the long wrong.
Until next time…stay healthy and safe! And BUILD THAT GRIT!