I have had chickens for over a year now, and I have experienced pretty much everything (or so it seems) except catastrophic illness... I did have epidemic vitamin deficiency in a large batch of broiler chicks, but I won't call that catastrophic because I got it under control and only lost one chick of the 11 who had issues. I've had two predator losses, fighting roosters, unexplained chick death, broodies in the fall, killing a chicken to eat, killing a sick chicken (just a broiler about to flip).
But despite all of that, which were all isolated incidents over the past year, I think keeping chickens is WAY easier that I thought it would be. Getting the right setup can be hard work (and expensive!), but after that it was smooth sailing, more or less. The only time it was hard was when I had 100 broilers at once when I got the idea to raise them up and sell them. So not worth it for me, I hated every minute of that 12 weeks (two batches staggered by 4 weeks). Layers only? Cake walk. You've read the stuff, you know what to do, now is the time to do it! I had that same knot in my stomach when I started, and it went away (gradually, and it still reappears when I have brand new chicks or something like that). Keeping chickens has been so easy. I don't see why dogs and cats are the preferred pet- if they weren't so messy I would say chickens would kick both to the curb as most popular pet in a heartbeat. They require very basic care, only as much of your companionship as you want to give them (far less, actually, unless you have treats to give them), zero training besides the ability to come running when you yell "chick chick chick." Yes, things can go wrong, but if you do most of the things you've read about (the most basic stuff, anyway) they aren't likely to. Yes, it's likely you'll make a mistake, but you'll learn from it (I accidentally left one of my roosters outside all night once- it was fine, thank goodness). But 99% of the time they will enrich your life. I don't "love" my chickens, they are not pets, but I do respect and enjoy them immensely. They are fun to watch, I love that they follow me around the yard when I am outside on the off chance I have any food on me, I love the noises they make, and I LOVE the eggs and meat they give me. I say jump right in, you'll be glad you did!