Bethesda “bubble” bliss

By Julia Pearl-Schwartz

As a Whitman student I often hear complaints about living in the Bethesda “bubble:” it’s too sheltered and unrealistic compared to the real world. But I, unlike some students, don’t want to burst the bubble—in fact, I usually love the bubble.

I used to agree with the common criticisms of Bethesda, but after re-thinking it, I’ve completely changed my mind.

I recently realized that I have an astonishing amount of resources close by. By living where I do, I have access to as much knowledge as I want, great peers and countless other benefits.

I’m grateful that I live in an area where I rarely have to worry about safety. Because I’m not preoccupied with a war going on around me, for example, I can think about more complex ideas. If I were worried about my family’s safety or where my next meal would come from, I certainly wouldn’t have the energy to wonder about environmental issues or how I can further involve myself with extra-curriculars.

I also have the freedom to do as I wish (for the most part). If I want to go rock climbing or go out for Thai food, I can. I can experiment with new activities and see which ones I want to continue.

Yet, sometimes I dislike how artificially perfect our world is. In few other places, for example, do teenagers drive such luxurious cars.

The most common frustration I’ve heard is our isolation in such wealthy, comfortable neighborhoods. We are over-protected, and many feel that we don’t experience the “real world.”

The petty conflicts that plague students in the area, and especially at Whitman, irritate me. I often tire of hearing gossip such as who’s going to prom together or what so-and-so wore because, frankly, I don’t think it’s important. But I’ve accepted that because the Bethesda community doesn’t have to worry about life-threatening situations too much, the conflicts in which we engage will inevitably be less “real world.”

I personally believe that if we don’t have to worry about survival conflicts, we will create other conflicts for ourselves. Solving problems is essential for human development, so Whitman students often create drama for themselves.

So yes, I do get irritated with the artificiality of Bethesda and its inhabitants, myself included. But, after living here my entire life, I’ve finally decided I ought to make the best of my town while I can—it was handed to me on a silver platter, after all.