“My sources tell me animals stayed awake fearful for their lives well into morning.”
These words appear on page 106 of Jordan O’Donnell’s breakout political satire, Zoon Garden: The Decline of a Nation, in conversation between the zoo leader and his advisor. But the United States today is not so different – our country and culture is, in a sense, wide awake with fear, trying to wait out the night, tossing and turning. This week, the Zoon Garden team examined the idea of fear in their own lives. The team members were asked to consider what they are afraid of, what fear means to them, and how fear operates in their daily lives on tour.
Leanne Weaver, the team’s Website and SEO Manager, shares her fear of not belonging or mattering to the people she loves.
“It's a downward spiral; when you try to connect to people motivated by that fear, it inhibits your ability to truly connect with them,” she says. “You become so self-absorbed in this need and try hard to mask it, but in the end you feel like you're just bothering people. They can't hear your silent thoughts of questioning your self-worth, so how can you possibly expect them to challenge those lies you keep feeding to yourself? How can you expect them to prove you wrong?”
When Weaver felt suffocated by this fear, she ran two and a half miles from camp to Big Bear Lake, hoping to collect her thoughts alone.
“I was bewildered by the peace I felt. I felt so lonely moments ago when I was surrounded by people, and here I was by myself completely at peace,” she says. “In that moment, I pondered about how my self-worth isn't as malleable as I thought. I decided to take back my power by choosing the definition of my self-worth instead of sacrificing that to others to decide for me.”
Upon returning to camp, Weaver felt empowered, connected, and ready to work. Her friend and fellow team member, Shanon Nonora, Zoon Garden’s Media and Marketing Specialist, has since weighed in on her own perspective on fear.
“You can live your whole life being afraid and not realize it,” she says. “That's something I definitely found when I came onto this trip. I had been afraid to go out of my comfort zone, afraid to be so spontaneous, afraid for things to go wrong, afraid to open up to the people in my life... If I had continued living my ‘ordinary’ or routine life, I'd never overcome fears I never know I had.”
Nonora maintains that the solution to fear is pushing yourself out of ordinary comforts. “Take opportunities you’re saying no to because of small worries, and say yes instead,” she says. “If you are in a place in your life where you can say yes, whether it be telling someone something about yourself you were afraid to share or going on a cross country road trip with twenty strangers, my only advice is to go for it! In my experience, it's always resulted in closer friendships and insanely crazy, awesome memories.”