Life has an interesting way of forcing us to face our fears. It’s terrifying to face them, but it’s also wholly liberating once you have done so. The past five years of my life have involved near constant facing of fears: driving around the U.S. with my dog, moving across country to a state where I knew virtually no one (and then, 3 months later, moving again to a city where I knew absolutely no one), reinventing my career and reinventing my life. I’m on the cusp of yet another huge change – a cross country move to New Jersey next week – and this involves yet another set of fears. I’m not quite sure I’ll ever again fall as madly in love with a city as I did with Austin. After all, it’s a city that gave me the courage to become the woman I have always wanted to be, and a city that taught me how to live with the cowgirl spirit (embracing, instead of hiding, my authentic bits). Yet as wonderful as the past 4+ years here have been, change beckons once again. My boyfriend of the past 2 ½ years lives on the East Coast, and although I love Austin, I love him more. We’ll be living in the woods in a gorgeous part of New Jersey, with easy access to NYC (which will hopefully be as good for me professionally as I know this move is for me personally). That said, I have some trepidations about this big change, mainly because I’ll be leaving my awesome friends behind and starting anew with living in a rural area, navigating snow (something I haven’t done in 20 years), on a coast where I’ve spent very little time in the grand scope of my life.
So it’s quite fitting that amidst this impending change, life has forced me to make peace with my biggest fear ever: A ROOSTER.
I’ve been terrified of chickens as long as I can remember. It’s embarrassing because I know most people think they are adorable, feathery balls of cuteness. I sorta faced my fear of chickens on my road trip in Utah when I held a hen, but I most definitely did not conquer the fear. Especially because it’s really roosters that incite a flight or fight response (in my case, after a blood-curdling squeal, flight). According to my mom, this fear started when I was a toddler. We were in a restaurant and I saw a stuffed rooster and was so terrified that I wouldn’t eat. Then, years later, we moved in next door to a family who owned a bad ass rooster. I never got pecked (I fled each time he was near), but I have memories of the mean rooster flogging neighborhood kids and making them cry. And so I cried along with them.
So interestingly, on the very first day that I started to pack up my house two weeks ago, a rooster appeared in my yard. Keep in mind, I live in Austin, in a bustling central neighborhood. I have absolutely no idea where he came from, but he has made it clear that he has adopted my yard as his new home.
When he first appeared I was filled with terror each time I had to come and go. That’s because this rooster decided he would follow me everywhere. Over the past two weeks I’ve realized this little feathery guy is actually bursting with friendly personality, and he’s made it absolutely impossible for me to be afraid of him. He plops himself on a tree outside my bedroom window each morning and crows until he sees me open the curtains. He jumps, clucks and spins with joy when he first sees me outside each day. This morning he even followed Yoda and me down the middle of the street when we were going for our morning walk. When I sit on the ground, he runs over and starts pecking at the dirt next to me to unearth bugs…I wonder if he thinks I am his hen and is trying to provide? Being this close to Roo (yes, I named him the most unoriginal rooster name ever) has let me see how truly beautiful his iridescent multi-colored feathers are as they reflect the light of the sun.
I’m no longer scared of Roo. Yes Mom, you heard that right: I’m no longer afraid of a rooster! I’ve faced my biggest fear and not only survived, but have learned that my former arch nemesis is actually giving me great joy. It’s a big life lesson that I should continue to look fear in the eye, because I’ll likely continue to be surprised by the outcome.
So all this to say, I’ll forever be grateful for the unexpected gift of Roo. He’s shown me that I can face my apprehensions about living in New Jersey, and quite likely even thrive as a result of overcoming them.