The beginning of the new year is generally bubbly; literally and figuratively. Bubbles can be deceptively dangerous, distorting our perspective, limiting our impact, and diminishing our hope. Yes, cute, friendly bubbles. Bubbles look stunning from the outside. Their iridescent color captures the eye. Their ability to beautifully reflect exactly what is in front of them is impressive. This is the allure of the bubbly perspective; it mirrors back to others your view in its best light. The view from the inside of a bubble creates a fishbowl effect, most closely resembling that of tunnel vision. And this is where the trouble lies, most of us live our adult lives inside of a bubble. And what we see is not the full picture.
Bubbles are troublesome because we don’t often realize that we’re encased by them. Facebook recently projected that I would marry a White man. Facebook projections are often outlandish, but whatevs. No prob with me because I’m open to marrying a man who’s outside of my ethnicity. When I shared this “projection” with a friend, she stated, “Why would you want to go through all of that trouble?” Her statement was a reference to some of the natural conflict and misunderstandings that she and I have in our friendship because we differ in ethnicity. I jovially replied, well, if that’s the case, I probably shouldn’t have any friends outside of my ethnicity at all, right? We both laughed and realized how much our friendship has enriched each others lives and knew the “trouble” had been worth it. I’m glad that we can speak honestly to one another, but that perspective was down right bubbly.
As one who grew up in poverty, I used to presume that safety was only found in the burbs, but a faulty presumption it was. The first and only time my home was broken into was when I was a resident in the suburbs. As a former resident of the suburbs, I found that it became increasingly easy to live in my bubble of lattes and chic eateries. That’s what the neighbors were doing. No one really left the bubble unless they had to. For me, living like this certainly narrowed my view on social justice issues and lessened my conviction to respond politically or otherwise. I don’t have an aversion to the burbs, but I had to find new ways to remain proximate to issues I care about. To those things that keep me up at night else I knew the bubble of passivity (cloaked in apathy) would lure me to sleep.
I realized a truth that Bryan Stevenson learned from his grandmother and so eloquently expounds on in his book, “Just Mercy,” when he recounts her telling him often, “You can’t understand anything from a distance, Bryan. You have to get close.” How could I say that I care so deeply about the marginalized and have such little interaction with them? I had been living in a bubble.
There is nothing like the disruption of life in your thirties to aid in the bursting of bubbles. Life quickly moves out of the space of black and white when family and friends die of cancer. An 8 year old child commits suicide. Job loss occurs. Home foreclosures for some and short sale for others. From abundance to poverty. In earnest, I lived in a bubble for most of my twenties. While there was some struggle in college and thereafter, my life during this time was mostly euphoric. I had a rude awakening, but an awakening nonetheless in my early thirties.
The perspective from inside of a bubble is incapable of presenting the full picture.
Bubbles are superficial and protect no one.
They provide a false sense of security.
Bubbles are going to burst.
My hope as 2017 draws to a close and a new year begins is that I don’t let fear drive me to create bubbles that keep others out, magnify my own worldview, and blur the experiences of others that are right in front of me. It takes more effort to recognize a bubble than to burst it.
In 2018, I want to broaden my perspective, increase my impact, and not lose hope as I think outside of the box and live outside of bubbles.
Join me. Let’s go.