The Bubble Is Back

Emily Collins - Senegal


November 14, 2012

You know that feeling of pure happiness? Where you feel a bubble inside you begin to light and spread throughout each cell within you? The light shines threw in the form or a smile and the sound of a laugh. That feeling of having pure satisfaction and being content within. Where in a single moment all is well, and the world may not be playing the cards entirely against you. I get this feeling nearly every day in America; every hour even of this contagious emotion I have learned to grow throughout time. And I catch the bubble like it is spreadable if I see someone else happy as can be. If you know anything at all about me, it would be that.

For the first time in my life, I have been searching for this bubble and felt as though it popped. Where did it go? But more importantly, how and when will I find it again? The past 2 months I’ve felt the weight of the world and the vulnerability of being a foreigner. Thoughts and memories scramble through my mind all day, and the complexity of who I am and the choices I make each day sink in. I went from friends, family, jokes, laughter, consistency and choice to being powerless. Choices are limited. I can no longer go to a coffee shop to relax, or take the longer way home to drive by the ocean. I can no longer have an “Emily Day” as my sister says and spend it drifting through motions silenced and spacey. I can now feel the effect on gender roles in my day to day life, and feel the intensity of it worldwide. For once, I am not in control. I am the minority, the less accepted gender, the American and just that. I am vulnerable and live day by day wondering how I made it through the day before.

But I had a realization. That choice is a privilege I have always taken for granted, and that maybe I can learn what it feels like to live with what I have. That vulnerability should not be seen as a negative, but rather an opportunity to remind ourselves that we are human, and nothing more. And then I felt the bubble coming. It was around 9 am on the morning of Tabaski. I was in my first ever Senegalese tailored outfit, sitting in a hot smelly truck for over an hour, sweating like I just hopped out of the shower. Waiting patiently for the truck to move and to be on my way to Ndianda to a house where they speak only Wolof and celebrate this new holiday. But there it was. I could feel the smile creeping upon my overly red lips. The laughter as my shoulders began to bounce up and down. My Senegalese mother gave me a sideways look but didn’t question my weird ways. I felt the smile as I felt my truth. This is exactly what I want to live for; finding the comfort of the world in the most unknown places. I believe that in life it is important if not essential to challenge yourself. Regardless of how small it may be, it is the ultimate way for growth, and the thought of settling literally frightens me to the point of no return. And if you do not challenge yourself, I have found that no one will do it for you. The consequence being that you will never truly understand what you are capable of doing.

I like the feeling of being out of my element. From knowing nothing and somehow expanding myself through it. The feeling is as addicting as ‘Ananas juice, and it is the sense before I fall asleep each night with a grin on my face that I live for. I can feel who I am expanding in ways unexpected and indescribable. Last night as I plugged in my IPod, I decided to switch up the playlist for some variety. The first song that came up was by Dave Matthews Band and had not heard in quite some time. With excitement I listened closely to each word to pull an emotion out and relate it to my own life.  I began to rewind the song to hear the line again. “Making plans to change the world, while the world is changing us.” The smile grew as God handed me a much needed synchronicity. Reverse mission is setting in, and I’m ready to run with it like never before. The bubble is back and I have a feeling it is here to stay.

Emily Collins