Dreaming in the Bubble Gum Clouds

Sitting alone in the corner, scribbling away nonsense in her notebook, a little girl dreamed of being writer. She wished to share her story with anyone and everyone who would listen. Her friend group was limited and so were her speaking skills. Stuttering every few words of her broken English, popular she was not. The few friends she had continuously cycled through her life, with very few staying around.

Later, she expanded to art. Not good art, but art. Eventually making it clear that she wanted to be a storyteller. Her head was always in the bubble gum clouds, with new ideas, new avenues, and new curiosities. Even though none of her stories ever really went anywhere, and her art was mediocre, she never gave up on her dream…until she grew up.

Growing Up

Growing up, I was far from the perfect child. I argued, I fought. On the other hand, I was determined to do well. Winning awards through middle and high school, I stayed up late if needed to do my homework. I worked full time hours for three years until sophomore year in high school when I burnt out. Then I quit. And from then on, the label I carried on my back follows me. Lazy. Weak. Bad work ethic.

I argued against the status quo. Dyed my black hair blonde. Argued the sources of information that my parents shared. My stance on issues differed from everyone around me. My parents tolerated it, until they could not take it anymore.

Finance. Medicine. Economics. Anything but art. Anything but writing. Anything that makes money. PLEASE. PLEASE, WE BEG YOU.

My parents’ words when they found out what I decided to go to university for. Multimedia Journalism and international relations. In my parents’ eyes, I would be wasting my time. I was too shy, too quiet, too weak, too forgettable to be anything other than what they wanted. Not to mention, journalism is one of the top ten most regretted college majors in the United States.

Percentage of graduates who would pick a different major if they could. Table: Gabriel Cortes / CNBCSource: ZipRecruiter’s monthly survey of 1,500 job seekers published November 2022

Almost anything else, lawyer, pharmacist, they wanted a daughter they could be proud of. I was not, nor could I ever be. Boy, was that clear. It’s still clear to this day.

My bubble gum clouds popped.

Pop Pop Pop the Clouds: Laziness

No award in the world got my parents to be proud of me. Not even two semesters of Dean’s list and a semester of the President’s list. They never looked my way. No one did. I worked to impress myself, but I got tired. So, I got lazy.

A whole course of missing assignments, late work, and stress became me. Working hard to fix them just caused me to ask what this is all for. Who am I working for, why am I doing this? I got lazy, and I stopped caring about bad grades. I stopped wanting to live life.

My priorities became about sleep and trying to destress. Of course, that did not work. The workload I had left me with unbearable stress. My family constantly piled on the stack of things to worry about, pushing my limits until they could not be pushed anymore but stabbed through. Puncturing my tough skin. My strew of abusive relationships often left me feeling alone. Abandoned. Fearful.

Recovery is hard. I would call the slump that I fell into, the reliance on sleep over doing my work a dependence. And this kind of dependence required recovery. Finding ways of drawing and writing while working became my crutch, a way to get me through.

Bubble Gum Clouds

Everyone has bubble gum clouds. The little bubbles of dreams. Everyone finds themselves with popped bubbles. The thing is, though, we are supposed to be blowing new ones when they do pop. Sometimes people pop our bubbles. Other times, we pop our own. My parents certainly popped many of mine, but I never gathered the courage to blow up more. Until recently.

Here what I learned:

Never a greater enemy than ourselves. Never a bigger hurdle than the one we place in front of us.

The saying, “We are our own greatest enemy” comes to mind. It is true. People will always come and pop our bubbles, sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally. We can choose whether or not to persevere and keep going. We can push through. Worrying about how or when is not the point. The point is that we try.

Stress is not a myth, but stress is not something that can overtake our lives without our consent.

My fiancé taught me that stress is necessary to get things done, but it is not necessary every moment of every day. Various levels of stress exist for different reasons. Parenting stress, school stress, deadline stress, all exist with the aim to encourage our brains to get things done. To keep certain things in mind. Stress can be a very good thing.

However, it can also be a very bad thing. We can stress to get things done. If we stress over something we can control, that we can change and/or do, then we do it. Then the stress can fade. If we stress over something we cannot change, cannot control or do, then we find something else. We let the stress for that fade and let go. We accept we cannot change what we cannot, cannot control what is not in our power.

A love for life does not exist for everyone. But a love for what life gives does.

I don’t love life. I don’t love what I have had to endure, I don’t love the lessons I’ve learned. But I do love what it has given me. A family, even though we have no relation through blood, they never fail to remind me they’re proud of me. Friends. Community.

I don’t love everything life has given me, but I love a lot of it. I am learning to love much more of it. I have had a lot taken away, but life never fails to leave something else in its place.

If you don’t have something you love, find something. Invent it.

Dreaming in the Bubble Gum Clouds

Continue to dream. I am. I draw when I can, write essays but mix story in with them. There is not an essay I have written that has no story. Although I am still burnt out. I still prefer to sleep my problems away rather than to do the work. But I know if I don’t, I will keep hurting. I have so much in my control, so much I can do. All that I can do is do it.

You have your bubble gum clouds, as I have mine. Bubble gum clouds are tougher than regular clouds. They have to be, they hold your dreams. Even when they pop, you can always blow up a new one. Don’t let the downfall of one thing in your life dictate the rest. You can do it. You can persevere.

Your dreams matter. Follow the bubble gum clouds.