Yellow Jackets, Take 2

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli
Yellow Jackets, Take 2

Last January I (with moderately inexplicable timing) wrote about yellow jackets, the menacing wasps that seem to literally come out of the woodwork in late summer and early fall. Last weekend I attended my first fall festival, and sure enough the yellow jackets did not disappoint—swarming at the first sight of a soft pretzel or a bottle of Fanta.

What is with them, seriously?

I am not here to simply re-write a diatribe about how annoying they are, but I am here to report the, the ever-so-slight evolution in my reaction to them.

In January I talked about how I would basically become hysterical upon the appearance of the first yellow jacket; however,  this past weekend, I noticed that my hysteria has become somewhat tempered. I cannot proudly declare my indifference to them—yet—but at least I am moving to a saner place. Well, okay, I still swatted madly in their general direction and demanded that my children eat their food while walking rather than sitting still. I still refused to let my daughter get a snow cone, knowing that the sugary sweetness would simply attract more of those dreaded flying tormentors. So perhaps from the outside I still look crazy.

But! I also noticed that my insides were not in a panic at their arrival. I further noticed that I even allowed a few yellow jackets to hang around us without trying to shoo them away. When one landed on my daughter’s shirt I gently moved it away with the wave of my hand, where in the past I would have picked her up and hurled her in another direction, most certainly guaranteeing that one of us would be stung.   So, progress.

I think that sometimes the more we allow the presence of what scares us the less scary it becomes. Things in my head are almost always scarier than things in real life, so the avoidance of those things actually makes matters much worse, because even if I’m avoiding it I’m undoubtedly still thinking about it, and the thinking about it is much more dreadful than the experiencing. Ironic, no?

As I was thinking about this with the yellow jackets, I realized examples of this were happening all around me—the conversation I turned into a huge fight with a co-worker in my head turned out to be a productive and enjoyable brainstorm. The certainty that I had somehow offended a family member turned out to be a situation that had nothing to do with me. My fears are almost always a glorious product of my own assumption and imagination. Which I discover only, and as soon as, I face them head on.

So, while I think I’m still a long way off from sitting calmly on a park bench sharing my hot dog with a pack of hungry yellow jackets that I’m sure are put on this earth only to bring horror and harm to me, I think I’m a road to recognition that most things are only as scary as I let them be.

How can you face your yellow jackets head on?


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.