Confession #9

I might quit the ZOOTeen program. I don’t enjoy it was much as I used to and I know it won’t be the same as it was my first few years and I don’t think I can accept that. I may just consume myself in guard and theatre. I still love nature and my beliefs about the environment stand true. I just don’t feel the same about the zoo. I may become a metroparks volunteer instead…

natalieinthemiddle said:

I'm not trying to be stalker-ish, but I was looking through the Toledo Zoo tag on Tumblr, and I saw your post about Mr. Dave. I only got to know him for a year and a half (I'm a current ZOOTeen) but he was and still is one of my favorite people. So reading your post was amazing. I miss him. Thank you for sharing your story about him, it helped me. Thanks.

Well, first of all, explore away!  I don’t mind that you found my blog - and I’m so incredibly touched that you reached out and told me this.  I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Dave when I was 14, back in… 2002? I was chock full of emotions, energy, and opinions, and sometimes it made me brash and loud.  Mr. Dave was always there for me, celebrating my personality and sharing mischievous stories.  He taught me about hippos and sloth bears (one of his top three favorite animals at the zoo), he comforted me after truly life-altering, devastating moments, and he and Judy welcomed me into their homes.  I truly have never met anyone like him; he was so charismatic with his overflowing love and kindness.  And that crazy grin of his could pry a smile from anyone!  I think of him all of the time, especially when I think about potential future kids - I would have probably asked him to be a god parent.  There is no way to measure the impact he had on my life, and it made me tear up to read your message, to know that he is still in other people’s hearts. 

A small, sad note - I was incredibly insecure while I was going through the ZOOTeen program, and I never let anyone take my photo if I could help it (you can ask Mr. Bill about Emily Joy and photos - he has like 4 total and can profess to how difficult it was to get those).  Although Mr. Dave was one of the most important people in my life, I don’t have a single photo of us together.  As a photographer, that’s unbelievable.  As someone who loved him, it breaks my heart.  I know I have the memories of us together, and those are the most important thing… it is just sad.  I guess my point is, never let insecurities or doubt get in the way of showing your love for someone - take photos, appreciate them actively, and always say you love them.  Mr. Dave and I always did at the end of every conversation and it means the world to me. 

Goodness, I miss him.  I’m glad you were able to get to know him - he was so incredible!

I just made a really long post about missing everyone and the way things used to be and it’s like.. all zoo people. And now it’s just sitting in my drafts because I don’t know if I want to post it. It makes me so sad, because we all seemed so convinced things would stay that way and that we’d be friends for years to come and now it’s just different.
I don’t know. 
I’m sad today.

Friday was extremely difficult for me.

I was on a 30 Hour Famine at the zoo…but it wasn’t the not eating part that made it difficult. It was the social aspect of it all.
I guess realizing that I’m now on the outside of the zooteen program has really began to hit home lately, and it’s making me feel out of place and useless there. I’ve spent the last year and a half or so trying to make the zoo back into the home that it once was for me, but it seems that my efforts have done no good whatsoever. 
I’m drifting more and more. Every weekend that I go in just seems to prove to me that I’m not needed. I don’t feel as if I have anything left to contribute to the program. 
I enjoy serving and doing projects, but to a point, even most of those have become monotonous and boring for me, and most days (as ashamed as I am to admit this) I’d rather just stay home and sleep than have to face a program that doesn’t know, accept, or care about me anymore. It hits me especially hard when Bill completely overlooks me, or else only stops me to tell me something I’m doing wrong. 
I’m out of place and out of time.
Friday was difficult because I spent 30 hours doing something I would usually love, only now, I didn’t feel a thing.
I’ve fallen out of love with the zoo and with the zooteen program, and it’s made me extremely bitter. Whenever I hear newer teens talking about how loving and accepting the program is, I’m almost tempted to say “just wait till you hit seventeen, then let’s see how you feel about this place,” because everything changes. Suddenly, you’re too old for the new teens to be friends with, but too young for the mentors and alumni. And maybe I’m the only one dealing with this issue…everyone else seems to be doing alright. So why am I drowning?