Before this previous summer, my fear of ants was minimal. Once I discovered the power they have in numbers and the amount of paranoia they induce, my fear of ants grew to an overwhelming level.
It started with a few scouts on the desk and shelves in my room and other bedrooms in my grandparents’ house. We tried numerous methods of getting these uninvited guests out, but none of them worked. Not only were they not leaving, but more were coming! What started out as a minor, inconvenient ant problem turned into a personal horror story and a heavy invasion of privacy.
They got into my bed, my blankets, my clothes – they even got into my purse. I moved a total of five or so times within my grandparent’s house, and those small but mighty black crawlers of terror followed me in almost every instance of relocation.
I lived in fear. My paranoia inside transformed into a dominating psychological monster that fed off of temporary mental instability and emotional vulnerability.
I felt safe only at places where ants were absent, but that feeling of safety disappeared once I realized the ants followed me outside my grandparents’ house. Not only were they going to work with me; I also found them attending church with me, and were with me when I was visiting family and friends.
At one point I thought God was either punishing me and/or teaching me something. A few weeks went by where I was so scared that all I could do was pray to God that the ants would go away, or I could learn to live with them.
Unfortunately, neither of those happened. My fear continued to live even when my grandparents’ ant problem was resolved thanks to the help of Terro (basically a liquid ant trap). While God didn’t answer my prayers like I wanted to, he delivered some lessons through those pesky bugs.
I learned not to place so much value on materialism. Many of my items were quarantined for days or even weeks when ants were on them- as if they had just received a zombie virus. By isolating and not using the items that had gotten infected by ants, I learned not to depend or place so much value on the objects I had used heavily before.
I also learned that I wasn’t afraid of ants themselves, but I was more afraid of what they were capable of. Ants demonstrated the power of numbers. An ant itself didn’t provoke concern in me. I was only afraid of that one ant because I knew it wasn’t alone. For every observed ant there were at least 20 more unseen. An ant alone can’t carry a giant cookie by itself, but it can carry a small crumb and tell its hundreds of companions where to find more.
I still freak out when I see an ant on me, but I’m also reminded that just like an ant, I never have to carry a heavy burden on my own.