Room To Grow: The Goldfish Theory

Have you ever heard about goldfish, and how they can only grow as large as the bowl they’re stuck in? So, if you’ve got a goldfish in a cute, little bowl, it’s going to stay cute and little. If you put the goldfish in a bigger bowl, it will grow to fit the bigger bowl. If you put it in a tank, it will grow to fit the tank. By this logic, I can only imagine if you put a goldfish in a pond, it will keep growing to fit the pond. Maybe that’s a stretch, but it’s good to imagine myself as a goldfish stuck in this cute, little bowl. And that’s why my life is still just cute. Just little.

Like goldfish, our growth as people depends on our environment. Not literally-- I’m always going to be 5’3” (hopefully). But what I mean is that as long as I am stuck in this cute, little bowl, I am going to be exactly that: Stuck.

So I’ve tried to get to the bigger bowl. I’ve applied for other positions at this bubble of a school. I’ve been told I am too young. I’ve been told I don’t have enough experience doing exactly what I do every day. (Nobody notices if a goldfish learns to swim backwards, because nobody pays attention to something in such a little bowl.) But they notice if the Japanese fighter-fish can swim backwards, despite it’s equally small bowl, simply because it’s a different type of fish. And they give the fish with the beautiful, flowing tail a bigger bowl, simply because they’ve noticed it. They just like that fish a little more.

I am still the goldfish in the cute, little fishbowl. And there is no room to grow.

But I am not a goldfish.

I am a strong-willed, independent woman who cares a lot, cries a lot, and simply does a lot.

What it’s taken a long time to realize, or at least develop the ability to see, is that everything is a choice. My partner has helped me open my mind this way. This little bowl, this little bubble that I am stuck in is not going to get any bigger. But I’ve got to stay here as long as it takes to get everything I can out of it.

And then, I can choose to move on to a bigger, better bowl. I can choose to take what I’ve learned in this small, confining space, and find a pond or even an ocean and grow into a bigger, more beautiful goldfish.

I’ll never be a Japanese-fighter fish, the one people like because, well, they just do. That's okay. Because I can find new spaces to be who I am and be loved just for that. I can find new spaces where people notice that I’ve learned to swim backwards or do flips and they’ll give me a bigger bowl because I’ve earned it.

You can make a choice, too.

You don’t have to stay where you’re expected to.

You can find the ocean.


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