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The Happy Tooth
OVERCOMING OUR FEARS
HOW A ‘TERRIFYING’ BEAST BECAME MY BEST FRIEND
Overcoming my fear of dogs was an important step in my life. Not only did it bring me my best friend, but it also helped me grow as a person. It can be hard to move past a fear, especially if it’s something we’ve carried for many years, but the world has so many opportunities when we stop letting such fears control us.
Why should we overcome our fears? When I was growing up, I was terrified of dogs. You see, stray dogs in Vietnam are not like dogs in the United States. They are really mean and hungry. When I was little, my grandmother would always tell me to never go near the dogs, and I often saw dogs chasing other kids, barking, and growling with their teeth bared. relaxed around dogs, and the dogs themselves are far more friendly. My fear of dogs didn’t go away, though. Every time I saw a dog, my heart raced. If I visited a friend who had a dog, I didn’t want to go inside their house, because I knew there was a dog in there. This fear stuck with me into adulthood, and, considering how common it is to see a dog with their owner in day-to-day life, my fear started to become a problem. In dental school, I realized this extreme phobia was unfounded, and it was starting to control me. I had to overcome it. My husband and I went to a local breeder and picked out our first dog together, a Lhasa Apso named Muffin. When we first brought Muffin home, he was this tiny little thing who practically fit in the palm of my hand — and I was still terrified of him! It took about six months before I finally became comfortable with having this mop dog around my house. As my fear started to fade, Muffin and I began to bond. Muffin became my best friend for 15 years. He was — and I am not exaggerating here — the best dog in the whole world. Lhasa Apso dogs are playful and intelligent, and Muffin really was wonderful. Having him really helped me overcome my fear of dogs and understand why people love their dogs so much. When he passed away, I was devastated. I will always be thankful to Muffin for helping me so much. When my family moved to the United States, I learned that Americans tend to have a very different relationship with dogs. People were far more
“It can be hard to move past a fear, especially if it’s something we’ve carried for many years, but the world has so many opportunities when we stop letting such fears control us.”
Recently, I’ve been invited to speak to other dentists and teach them how to run a successful practice. I am really excited for this opportunity, but, at the same time, the idea of speaking in public fills me with dread. English is also my second language, which makes public speaking that much more intimidating. Obviously, I can’t adopt a public speaker in order to overcome my fear of public speaking. Instead, I’ve been practicing speaking in front of my friends and family. I have also enrolled in singing lessons to learn how to use my voice better. I can’t say I have much talent there, but I’m having fun!
It’s not easy to overcome a fear, but I know from personal experience it’s worth it. There can be amazing things in your future when you leave your fears in the past.
- Dr. Justene Doan
July 2017 Edition
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