…and other absurdities of the past week
I lived in the same house as a kitten called Yoda for the last 5 days.
For anyone who knows me even a little bit, this should come as a shock. My fear of cats, or animals in general, is perhaps something that I feel the need to declare pretty early on during a conversation. "Hi, I'm Zora; I can't be around animals" - is how most of my primary interactions go. So when I completed my escapade in a feline-friendly household, I couldn't help but reflect on the sudden bout of courage I'd exercised.
Before we move on to the results of said reflection, let me give you a background. No, I do not hate animals or wish them any harm. No, I'm not scared that they will sense that I'm a horrible human being, and no, it's not a fear I've tried (or even actively wish) to eradicate. The shocked looks and shaming that come after I've disclosed this piece of information hasn't always been easy to deal with, I'll admit. But, however long it took to do so, I finally did come to terms with this fear of mine. But more on that later.
So how did I manage, for the very first time, to live (sometimes just a foot away, I might add) with a cat without constant panic attacks? For starters, Yoda is tiny - perhaps as big as my foot - so the first time I saw him, I realized a being as little as him could barely be threatening. Another major reason behind my inexplicable bravery could be the fact that he hasn't yet mastered the art of leaping. He can't jump onto a high surface, or jump down from one, which gave me the liberty to sit on the couch or the dining table chairs with my feet up, knowing full well that he won't be able to reach me. With that knowledge, finding him sleeping comfortably right underneath my chair fueled, not fear, but a strange sense of affection for the creature. I know; I'm just as shocked as you are.
But the most important factor that helped me stay in the same room - nay, a foot away - as Yoda (pet-owner friends and acquaintances, take notes), is the fact that Yoda's parents (N and D, thank you for the incredible hospitality) made sure not to make me feel uncomfortable. They didn't pressurize me into petting him, or tell me that my fear is ridiculous, or bring him close to me every chance they got. They just let me be, and in return, I let him be. So even when he was walking around underneath my feet, I felt no sudden pangs of panic or fear. When Yoda was kept inside a room so I could walk around freely in an empty house, I missed him, and felt the need to check up on him through the closed door. As my fear and boundaries were respected, it became easier for me to see Yoda for what he really is - a tiny little kitty, excitable and playful and lovable. And I did come to love him, in my own, strange way.
I am, however, fully aware that when he gets bigger (and learns how to leap), it will certainly be harder for me to be as carefree in his presence as I was in the past few days. But that doesn't take away from the fact that I managed to level up my courage, expand my boundaries, and discover a new side to myself. (Friends, are you proud of me? Because I sure am.)
My biggest takeaway from this entire, absurd experience is that in the right circumstances, with the right people, some things that you've found to be daunting don't have to be that way anymore. And that is evident from my camera roll, where you can catch a glimpse of the catographer I've suddenly transformed into.