Ovophobia

With the day that is in it, I couldn’t think of a more apt time to share what I am about to share.

Up until about a year ago, I had been living with a most debilitating phobia.

Heights- amazing views! Not a problem!

Spiders- what, those cute little things!? Please.

Enclosed spaces- are you joking? A bit of peace and quiet!

No, my fear was much more severe.

Before you start to question the legitimacy of ovophobia, you should know that Alfred Hitchcock was an ovophobe. Yes, the man behind one of the freakiest psychological thrillers of all time- ‘Psycho’– was afraid of eggs.

So, save your mockery- ovophobia is for real!

Before I get into the nitty-gritty, I’d like to describe the moment in which this all stemmed from.

My twin brother James and I were born 2 months premature; when we were infants, our mother Trish searched for ways in which to get more protein into our diets in order to aid our growth.

It had been suggested to her- by God knows who- to crack a raw egg into our bottles. James had no issues- but I couldn’t keep it down. The devious trick backfired.

‘Eat me. I dare you!’

You might be wondering what exactly it was that I didn’t like about eggs. I’ll tell you simply- absolutely everything.

The smell made me gag.

The slimy texture turned my stomach.

The mere sight or sound of an egg being cracked onto a frying pan made me squirm.

If someone were cooking with eggs, I would have to leave the kitchen. Similarly, if someone were eating eggs in the vicinity, I would have to leave the room.

If by some cruel twist of fate an egg found its way onto my plate, then the egg- and any food item that the egg or egg juice came into contact with- would have to be discarded.

Everything about them- raw or cooked- made me both anxious and physically ill. I couldn’t handle it.

Family and friends of course thought it was the most ridiculous thing they’d ever heard- but for me- it was no joke.

I started to become aware of the effect it was having on me. I knew I was missing out on a key source of nutrition- but I was helpless- and I resigned myself to the fact that it was just the way it was.

This crippling phobia had a knock-on effect on my overall diet. I would pass judgment on other foods- without ever having tasted them- based on pre-conceived notions. I would decide by looking at something that I didn’t like it; I became an incredibly picky eater.

You may also be wondering just how I managed to survive in South Korea- where the food is so extremely different to what I would have been used to back home in Ireland. I won’t lie, the first month was torture. I failed to recognise anything on my plate; it was very unsettling. I didn’t eat any of the school lunches for the first two weeks, nothing.

I soon realised that my fear of eggs- and all my picky tendencies with food- were all psychological. I decided that this couldn’t go on any longer; something had to change.

I started to eat lunch in the canteen, and I slowly became more familiar with what I was eating. I was beginning to broaden the horizons of my taste buds, and I was enjoying it.

One evening, I decided it was time to take the next big step.

I bought a dozen eggs at the local supermarket and cooked my very first egg at the age of 26, in a tiny bedsit apartment in South Korea. I have to say I didn’t particularly enjoy that first batch of scrambled eggs, but I was both relieved- and surprised- to have survived, and to have lived to tell the tale.

Almost a year has passed since, and I don’t go a day without eating an egg in some way, shape, or form. I must admit though, my culinary skills are lacking as I have yet to venture beyond scrambled or boiled. It’s a work in progress.

I can’t stress how big a deal this was for me at the time. I know some of you will laugh at it- and although I talk about it jokingly now- but this truly was my Everest.

As a result of overcoming my phobia, my overall diet has improved and I am (a little) more open to trying new things. I tried tuna for the first time just 3 months ago, and now I can’t get enough of the stuff! Also, I absolutely love Korean food.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m still picky in comparison to most people- but I’m working on it.

Some of the foods that I still refuse to eat based on how they look, smell, or feel include- but aren’t limited to:

  • Tomato
  • Mushroom
  • Onion
  • Pineapple
  • Most Seafood

Perhaps someday I will be able to conquer my Kilimanjaro- the tomato!

By stepping into the unknown and trying new things- no matter how big or small- we come out the other side more confident having learned more about ourselves. Try to find ways to step outside of your comfort zone from time to time- you’ll be glad you did!

Accompanying Story

Earlier today while I was sitting in the bus terminal in Seoul, a young girl of maybe 6 years of age approached me with her mother by her side. I took my earphones out, set my book down, smiled, and said hello. The little girl smiled back and said hello, as did her mother.

I always enjoy when Korean kids come up to me and try to speak English, it’s amazing.

The little girl’s mother gave her an encouraging nod- and she proceeded to dig around her bag with her tiny hands, before fishing out a hard-boiled egg. She handed it to me, and wished me a Happy Easter. I was blown away. I started laughing, as did her mother. I thanked the little girl, and wished her a Happy Easter in return, before she excitedly went on her way.

It was a truly heartwarming moment.

Happy Easter!