Reconciling with "The Fishbowl" at a Quarter Century

Posted by Gordita In The City Monday, March 12, 2012



This summer of 2010 marks my quarter-century on this good planet earth. Given that I am physically healthy and have most things in life to recommend me - I can proudly say... not a bad job Mo.  I think there was once a time when people thought I would probably be on my second kid, have an acquired drug habit, and no direction at twenty-five years old given some of the things I've experienced over the years. So the question becomes, what progress have I made? What have I learned?  Am I more adult now than I used to be? 

Lets rewind to Five Years ago:

July 6th, 2005 - Location: East Los Angeles College, Little Theater

I was taking part in ELAC Theater's Summer Shakespeare workshop.  In my opinion, I was having the most adventurous fun of my young adult life - I was staying up all hours of the night because I could, I was doing theater, I had a new boyfriend to be stupid in like/love with, School was working out, my mom was back home ... but under all that I was terrified. I was convinced that fun couldn't last that long.  I was waiting for some other shoe to drop and for the happiness to extinguish. That night in the theater workshop - we were rehearsing for our showcase. For the first time in my life, I got cast as a "Juliet"  and I was loving it.  I was 19 years old and it was the day before my 20th birthday.

I spent the whole day thinking of all the selfish/kiddish things that I could do on my last night as a technical "teenager."  In my mind, I was thinking that those hours before I would turn twenty would end a chapter of my life.  As far as I was concerned, the idea of becoming twenty meant that I was making my official exit from the Neverland of adolescence to the world of adult seriousness (the strange deadlines I set for myself). I don't remember if I ever accomplished achieved the level of teenage mischief I desired that night - but I do remember spending the time after rehearsal scared. As my worldview was growing to include freedom, I felt adulthood closing in on me like a garrote.

Back to the present, it has been 5 years since then and I am so different.  At 20, I was planning on attending Cal State Long Beach for English and then transferring to  Law school in order to be an attorney by 26/27.  Now, I find myself in Boston working my way towards graduating in the same degree at a small East Coast liberal-arts college full of hipsters. I'm surrounded by thousands of differing carbon-copies of my confused 19/20 year old self.  I admit at times, I move amongst them with a bit of a lofty air of "been there, done that" because I'm older and by lot in life...less sheltered than many of them. At times, I'm appalled at my arrogance.  Putting on airs as if I have lived a thousand years.  I suppose I do it because I need to.  I feel so different and isolated at that school, that differentiating myself through my life experience (since I never took pride at my academic achievement) seems to be the only way that I can find a modicum of security.  At the end of the day, the fishbowl that we are groomed in High School and college to outgrow is still a fishbowl. 

As a fish that has flopped between different schools, coasts, family dynamics, I am learning that the reality is that we are all floaters. This is not even a new or innovative thought, as much as I would like to believe it is. Yes, the proverbial ocean of a larger world does exist.  It is a large and cavernous blue void that cares nothing for our small individual existence. To survive we flock together to create "schools,"  pie slices of categorization and culture to  make ourselves feel better.  I might be the unique flashy fish in my particular fish bowl - but there are a potential million other flashy fish just like me that exist in other fish bowls. That is a hard pill to swallow in a culture that prides itself on individualism and innovation.  It's a depressing enough thought for most adults that they would probably rather chew a cyanide pill before admitting that they are a speck in the big scope of humanity.

I think this is what holy men and religious scholars talk about when it comes to true enlightenment or communion with "god".  Maybe it really is about arriving to the point where you accept that attachment to the created and material world of the million human fishbowls is a complete myth. Being aware of that big blue ocean and humbling yourself is maybe the first step. There is a wonderful book that was given to me by my grandmother called "Hope For the Flowers".   You could argue that very few people actually "grow-up" - that thought has all sort's of implications that I'd rather tackle on a different post.

So the point? Well, I keep hitting the glass of the fishbowl, stretching to jump out of my "school"  - Maybe I need to start looking through the glass towards the ocean and learn to make waves to guide me out.

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Welcome to the rantings and ravings of a twenty-something Latina who just happens to have ADHD , enjoys the luxuries of working class life in urbania, and believes strongly that women (and men) need to stop using body size as an excuse not to live their lives...as for being a minority.... well I like it spicy and mixed.

At this blog, I rep the West Coast ::insert gang sign here:: while moonlighting as an East Coaster.
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