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Going Through the Bubbles

Last week I was standing on the track of my old high school football field having a conversation with one of the most influential teachers I’ve ever had. After we had gone through the “How are you’s?” and the “It’s great to see you’s,” he asked me the ever-daunting question: “How’s school going?”

I’ve created a default answer for the times that people ask me this question; it usually includes the words good, exams, studying, Netflix, sleeping late, and adjustment, but that night I ventured away from my usual redundant ramble. That night, I began to tell this teacher that I’ve trusted for the past five years about how different I have come to see high school after beginning college. Of course, I filled him in on how life was going, but at some point I said the words, “High school seems like a bubble now,” and it prompted an entire discussion about life that I don’t ever want to forget.

Honestly, I stand by what I said. Looking back now on my four years of high school, I can so clearly see that I was enclosed in this metaphorical bubble of football games, teenage angst, school spirit, and moments that I thought would ruin my life (just a heads up: they didn’t).  The thing is, though, that I couldn’t see that until I was out. I was so fascinated by my life inside the bubble of high school that I didn’t realize the years I was there weren’t going to be The Most Important Years of My Life. I had days in high school that I thought I’d never have friends again, that the test I had failed was going to tank my GPA and I wouldn’t get into a good college, or, my favorite, that the parking lot at my school was literally the worst parking lot to ever exist, ever. I dramatized my life inside the bubble because all I knew was the bubble. Jeez, guys, I spent four years inside that bubble, no wonder I was so apprehensive about leaving it.

When I stated this to my old teacher, he, being older and much wiser than I, a freshly nineteen year-old college freshman, mentioned that while I popped the high school bubble, I really had just entered a new, slightly bigger bubble.

Let me tell you, my “I’m an adult now and obviously know so much about life” armor was dented a little bit because, dang, he was right. I was disappointed. I had finally branched away from the shelter of high school, thinking I was being so spontaneous and independent in college, only to realize that he was completely, 100% right. I’ve created a new bubble. I hang out with the same three people every day, I hardly ever leave campus unless I have to, and I come back to the same dorm room every afternoon. I’m still not a part of the mysterious “Real World,” that all of my elders talk about, even though I thought I was supposed to be in it when I got to university? Someone help me out here, I’m so confused.

But, after he pointed this out, we kept discussing the concept of the bubble, and here’s what we deduced: you are always in a bubble. No matter where you are at in the stages of your life, you’re always going to create a bubble. You will get comfortable in your situation, and it will be cozy, and safe, and you’ll never want to leave because you’re sure that life couldn’t possibly get better. But, oh my, do you have a lot to learn, bubble inhabitant, because each time a bubble pops, you’re going to grow. Each time a bubble pops, with it comes more life experience, more lessons, and more wisdom. Each time a bubble pops, parts of the old join the new, and your support systems get stronger. Each time a bubble pops, you become a new, more riveting version of you, even in the smallest of ways.

So, is the ever-present bubble a bad thing? In my opinion, no. Bubbles provide necessary comfort, but when they pop, you understand that it’s thrilling to leave your comfort zones. That’s how you move forward in life.

You may be in a bubble short-term, or you may be in there for a lengthy stretch. The important part is that you learn to expect, prepare for, and understand the pop. Allow it to happen. People always talk about allowing an old door to close so you can open a new one, so just apply that to this nifty bubble metaphor: allow your bubbles to pop because you never know how beautiful the next bubble will be.

Bubble word count: 25

By laurenstockam

Lauren is graduate student at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO.

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