That First Awkward Swing

You ever swing your hoe down and cut into the earth, only to stop and think to yourself, “Man, I must look like a goddamn fool right now.”

I promise, it’s not just you.

Just the other day I did the exact same thing. Even after I ignored the initial thought, the anxiety I felt just thinking about how dumb I may have looked plagued me. I couldn’t shake it, no matter how many times I tried to assure myself that sure, that last swing was awful clumsy, but I’ll get the hang out it sooner or later. I was noob, I’ve never tilled a single garden bed in my life. 6904316654_cfe8e161c4_oIf I tilled every day I could become an okay tiller in about two months or so, if that. Unlike some folks who, after giving themselves a pep talk during their work, could easily move on to another task, I ended up freezing. Call it social anxiety, general anxiety, intrusive thoughts, whatever it is! It’s causing me to stop working.

Here’s how ridiculous the anxiety truly is: I’m freaking out because I’m tilling in my own backyard and there’s NO ONE watching me to care about my form, figure, etc. I feel this way when digging in the soil. When handling the rabbits. When planting seeds. I’m constantly questioning myself over how I look, how I did it, how does it look now that I’ve messed with it. Struggling this last week with such stupid anxiety has left me so mentally exhausted I can’t even put the rabbits out on pasture. I’ve been lucky to use the past two days of rain as an excuse, but the Texas summer is preparing to unleash itself upon us, so that excuse will be short lived. To get this over with, I went ahead and thought long and hard about the issue. Sifting through my many self-depreciating thoughts, I realized that my worry didn’t initially come from how I looked, but actually whether I was doing the task correctly. I thought I was asking myself, “Do I look stupid doing this?” when the question really was, “Am I doing this right?”

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Justin Rhodes uses a scythe for the first time as Jim Kovaleski offers some tips.

Honestly? Haha! Nope! But that’s okay too. No one really knows what they’re doing, ask any adult. I’m an “adult” and I admit that I have no clue what I’m doing. I had to Google search, “How to till a garden” and watch a step-by-step video to ensure that I was hacking at the ground correctly. Watching all those homestead videos, Instagram and Facebook posts, blogs and documentaries; it looks like all those homesteaders know what they’re doing. But taking a glance at Justin Rhodes swinging a scythe for the first time reminded me that these folks aren’t perfect. They had to learn just like I’m learning. They probably felt some anxiety swinging that scythe, or moving that first-time broody hen, or struggling to get the goat to hop up on their milk-stand. There’s one prepper I follow on youtube, Jnull0, that has fallen down hills and been attacked by hornets. He happily posts these videos to give us viewers a laugh. I gotta say, that’s one healthy way to move on from your problems: just laugh at them.

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John Null running away from some nasty hornets.

For now, I force myself to till. And turn the compost. And feed the rabbits. Everyday I challenge myself to post something, take a picture, comment on a famous homesteader’s video, and try to interact with the homesteading online communities. Even though my heart is racing with some absurd fear, I can’t stop. The blog needs updating. The soil needs amending. The compost isn’t going to turn itself. Those rabbits can’t be left outside all day, the neighborhood buzzard has already clawed at their hutch. I have to try and get over these initial anxieties if I’m ever going to finish tilling the garden this week.

As always, be kind and tender to one another.

Credit: Miguel Torres, Justin Rhodes, and John Null.

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