what the fear of dogs taught me

Two months ago a pack of seven homeless young dogs made me turn back and go in the opposite direction when I was walking alone in the forest in the countryside. They didn’t bark, nor follow me. I was terrified.

Surprisingly, after this happened, lots of people with unleashed dogs began to pop-up frequently during my walks in the city forest-park. Usually, I change my route and avoid coming across them. Even if the dogs are friendly, I dislike when they sniff or lick me.

Solitary long forest walks are my favorite summer weekends activity. If I continued to be afraid of the dogs, I would feel miserable. During the work week, I started to train myself to remain calm instead of indulging in fear when meeting unleashed dogs in the city park. 

In three weeks I decided to embrace my fear very much hoping that dogs were handled since the route to the train station runs through that forest. I imagined the worst case scenario: if they bark or attack me, I fight back and scare the shit out of them.

The first time it took me 40 minutes to let go super high anxiety. I met one of those homeless dogs, and again a few of them several times later. They don’t seem like harmful dogs... I keep walking in the forest feeling somewhat anxious.

What’s a takeaway for you from this story?

Let’s say you’re dealing with the real threat, like the fear of rejection. Imagine a worst-case scenario. Is it worth to avoid this fear? If you think about the outcome of inaction, what is worse?

In my case, giving up those beautiful forest walks wasn't worth the very slight chance one of those dogs might attack me. Giving into my fear would have caused me so much sadness I might even have felt worse than if I'd been bitten. That's why I decided to carry the stick and face the dogs, even though I'm still afraid of them.

The reflection on this event helped me to see the other perspective on my other fears. The fear of success, for instance. As obvious as it would seem to the outsider, it became more clear to me only now that I deprive myself of what I most want. Social change, respect, and influence that will stand time and help people like me. The crazy ones.

The post was initially published as a letter for Originals, where I recommended the following short articles by Derek Sivers and Seth Godin on the topic of fear:

Thanks to Amanda Truscott for the brilliant input that helped me turn the letter into the blog post.

Check out how the part of my forest walk looks like on Instagram (the route to the train station part).