I am pleased to introduce my new roommate, Shy LaBeouf.
Shy (cause she’s adorably shy) LaBeouf (because every cat needs a good strong last name)
This is a story about making decisions and animorphing into a maybe cat person. (Don’t worry, this might make sense by the end of this post).
It starts with me wanting a pet.
“Why a pet at all?” my Mama Bear asked me (who wants me to spread my wings with nothing tying me down for a few years). My response is the same as why most reasons people want pets: companionship, physical cuddly contact, something to care for that’s all mine, a replacement/forever boyfriend, and an excuse to cut off all ties to the human race because my social needs will be met so I can focus on taking over the world…. stuff like that.
I have never been a cat person. Dogs. Dogs are what I’m on board with (but dogs + apartment +full time job = no bueno). I grew up with a golden retriever (she was my parent’s favorite child), and exactly zero cats.
It’s dogs though. Dogs for me all the way.
Oh, yeah. Horses too. Horses I’m cool with.
My whole life I’ve felt the same way about cats as I do about kids – I could take em or leave em (teaching grade school has never been in the cards for me). They say, however, it’s different when they’re your kids. You could be a not kid person, have kids, and still be wild about em’.
I decided to find out first hand if this theory translated to cats (the next best option to dogs in my mind). Maybe I could be a general-not-fan of cats and still love one that was my own. Tbh, I’ve grown to enjoy their company when I’m out and about at mah pals’ abodes, and I love me some of that Neko Atsume (it’s a cat collecting app, like modern day tamagotchi). So hey, maybe I was making the transition to cat person.
Neko Atsume Real Life Neko Atsume
It took all of two months of searching for a cat to call my own for me to go back to the first cat that I met and choose her. I opted to do a 2 week trial period, or foster-to-adopt, because even with cats I feel better with the purchase knowing there is a return tag on it (and hey, I want to make sure the cat doesn’t hate my stinkin’ guts either because I want no business with a cat that’s sad that I picked it. I want general happiness on all ends). This issue digs deeper though.
See, my anxiousness is calmed when there is an out in any situation. I chatted with my therapist about this. If I’m not 100% sure on all ends about any situation, I feel that metaphorical cement block start to weigh down on my chest. A decision is forever with a rippling butterfly effect throughout all of eternity (#reallyfe, #melodrama). I expressed my concern to my therapist that I was not only making a decision for present day Anna, I was also making a decision for 35-year-old Anna. Would she want a cat? Would future Anna’s maybe-family-at-the-time want a cat? What if the cat died prematurely? How would that weigh on me?
Impressed by my thoroughness, but concerned with the amount of pressure I was putting on myself, my lovely talk doctor reminded me of the 80/20 rule for decision making. Basically, in order to make a decision, you need to be 80% sure of it. Not 100%. My problem, and I think a lot of people’s problem, is that I’m usually somewhere between 60%-70% sure. Even when I do breach that 80% (and let’s just take a moment to point out that we’re trying to quantify feelings here…kinda silly), I’m super reluctant because that 20% feels heavier. That 20% of doubt is cement, and the 80% certainty is feathers. Even when I reach that 100%, commit to the decision and execute, I’m haunted by it for an indistinguishable period of time. Sometimes it keeps me up for a few days, sometimes a few months, sometimes years.
Anxiety is a spooky ghost that lives in your head hiding doubt around every corner.
This is exactly what I’m working on with myself. Professionally, I have less trouble coming to decisions and sticking to them. In college, I had years of practice managing projects, making decisions, and then grinning and bearing those decisions. Personally, I’m still struggling to accept the color of the bath mat I chose 5 months ago. Go figure.
Brains are a strange thing.
Alright, back to Shy…
This story has a happy ending. Obvi, I’m keeping the cat. I did say roommate earlier, didn’t I?
Despite doubts flooding my brain – like this kitty is a nocturnal predator that’s either gonna explore my room with her cute, furry, built-in night-vision, or she’s gonna PLOT HOW TO CLAW THROUGH MY EYES AND EAT MY BRAIN LIKE A TASTEY MOUSE; and the fact that I’ve been texting her previous foster-Mom with questions like Is cat breath normal? Should she sneeze like that? Why is she sleeping so much? Is she allergic to me? – it’s a week later and things are going pretty well. I’m starting to get attached. I think this could work.
The most ironic thing about Shy is she reminds me of me. We’re both skittish, jump at loud noises, love sleep, hate being picked up, can watch Netflix for hours, have trust issues, love being pet, and have seen some shit in our short lives. It’s become clear to me that we’re a match made in Los Angeles (because I’m not gonna pretend to know what heaven looks like).
I’ve also come to accept that a cat does not make up for all human socialization, is not a replacement boyfriend, and I might have to start coming up with a different strategy for taking over the world (this is a discussion for a different time) – but she does help with the loneliness.
Decision-making is a life-work-in-progress (every time I order lunch without regrets is a step forward). Shy, however, is one I’m glad I made.