koko logo - a blue circle with the text 'koko - keep on keeping on'

They’re not like me


Back last summer, we were in the garden eating our dinner at a little marquee when a wasp appeared. I noticed it at the other end of the table and I immediately began to feel terrified.

The tricky part was that where I was sitting wasn’t an easy place to get out of – usually I’d want to run away. I watched it fly closer, almost bouncing off the food down the table towards me. By this point I started to shake and that’s when I heard ‘Are you still scared of them?’

It was just a passing comment but one that I found really hard to take because it’s not something I can ever imagine getting over, no matter how much I’d like to – it makes summer time very difficult for me.

My behaviour when I see a wasp might be really strange to others. ‘Just sit still!’, I’ve heard.

‘There’s nothing to worry about’ and ‘They’re more scared of you than you are of them,’ but to me it’s a fear, a fear that often others can’t understand.

My story is that during a cross-country run in year eight a number of wasps nests were knocked over and we got caught up in them. At first I thought I was running through stinging nettles, and then I felt the stinging higher up my legs and then on my arms. Then when I looked up there were dark clouds above of swarming wasps. We got lost in the woods running away from them and I’d say it was one of the most right frightening moments of my life. I couldn’t get them out of my plaits in my hair they were stinging my head over and over. I counted 46 stings. My mum asked me once why I’m scared of just one wasp now when I’ve been stung by so many but seeing just one takes me back to that day.

Some people’s behaviour might not make sense to us, they don’t act appropriately, they say things that are strange and react in a way that we don’t. But we haven’t lived their experiences, we haven’t seen what they’ve seen, and been through what they’ve been through. Instead of making snap judgements about people, and thinking they’re weird because they don’t act the same way as us, let’s take the time to hear their story, have empathy and try to understand the reasons why people are the way that they are.


Photo by Jonas Allert

Back to all blog posts