It’s that time of the day again; the time when all of us workers go out into the open to retrieve various resources to bring back to colony. I wake up every morning with the fear and anxiety growing inside me like a disease, spreading into my antennae, making me shiver. My curse: a fear of wide, open spaces… otherwise known as agoraphobia. Whenever we venture out, I tend to stay in the shadows as much as possible, I will scavenge under the leaves, or venture through a variety of rocks and pebbles, anything to avoid going under that big, open sky.
There have been several occasions when it has been unavoidable, times when I have had to scramble out into the open. In those moments the enormity of the sky pushes down on me, and I feel like I am drowning in the open air, on other occasions the feeling is entirely different, but equally as terrifying, I feel almost as if I might float away into that endless blue- falling into the sky. It is ridiculous I know- for someone like me- a worker ant, to be afraid of such things; but it cannot be helped.
It is getting worse every day. I have even refused to leave the colony before now, the other workers looking at me with disgust. There is no place for a worker ant that does not work, it is meant to be in my nature, but I am different from the others… I always have been.
Today… today is going to be different. I’m going to force myself out of the colony, I’m going to stroll out into the open and I won’t be fazed by any of it. It’s not the first time I’ve told myself this, it’s not the first time I’ve been determined to beat this phobia, but for some reason, even though the fear is tingling in my antenna and boiling in my abdomen, I feel today is going to be different.
I follow the other workers out of the colony, marching in time with the group, allowing myself to be filled with optimism, but unable to shake the doubts gathering in my head. We emerge into the light, it is almost blinding for the first few seconds, until we all adjust. The heat is equally as intense, threatening to boil us alive. We will not be deterred by the sunlight however, as we march onwards, through the thicket of leaves and grass and weeds. They provide a vast amount of shade, this is the environment I am comfortable in, in the colony everyone thinks I am defected, and out in the open I am scared to death, only here in the shade am I truly at ease.
But now the time is fast approaching. We are reaching the edge of the garden and will soon step out onto the pavement, completely exposed to the world at large, and I can scarcely keep time with my marching.
I see it- the entrance to that huge, open void, it’s threatening to pull me in, I’m going to fall, I’m going to bend, I’m going to break. No! I have to fight it; I cannot allow myself to be consumed by fear.
The first step into the sunlight: everything is fine; I’m going to be okay. With the next step I feel less confident. I can feel the heat bearing down on me now, the rays of the sun focused directly on me. Then the next step. I know now what is going to happen. I ‘m going to look up, I’m going to gaze into that sea of blue and I’m going to fall, fly, float away.
I look up and suddenly I’m rooted to the ground. There is so much sky.
The workers behind me bump into me, causing a domino effect to take place, all of the ants behind me falling to the ground. Now there is shouting, yelling, screaming- the entire workforce against me, but I cannot hear them, all I can focus on is the sky.
I know I have to run, I have to hide, I have to get away before I am swallowed whole. I uproot myself and dash into the shade, feeling the cool comfort of the shadows envelop me. I breathe a sigh of relief as I hear the chaos in the distance. I suppose I should be mad at myself, I suppose I should be ashamed… but I’m not.
The other workers will never understand, the queen certainly won’t understand, not one of them is sympathetic to an anomaly in the community. I will do all I can to fight this phobia, but I must do it on my own time, otherwise I will be of no use to anyone. I can gather in the shadows for now, until I gather the courage to try again. Why am I not angry at myself? I think it is because never before have I willingly stepped out into the open. I have made progress… no matter how small. I managed to stand in the open for some time without passing out, even if I was consumed by my fear.
In the end I suppose there is nothing to do but try and try again until I have conquered my demons. I will stop at nothing to make it so. I don’t know what this is… but I guess I have never had so much hope before, I feel, for the first time, like this might be possible. I will finally not be a freak anymore… I will be able to blend in eventually, and then I will be the same, it’s just what I’ve always wanted.
I will stop at nothing to be just like everyone else.