Balloon Jokes

Everyone knows that really cringe joke about the family of balloons right?

There’s baby balloon, mummy balloon and daddy balloon. The parental balloons are sleeping in bed when the baby balloon decides they want to sleep next to their parents- but there is no space for them in the bed! So, they deflate daddy a little… still not enough room. They deflate mummy a little, still not enough room- and so, baby balloon deflates themselves.

The parental balloons wake up in the morning and realise what has happened the night before and daddy has to have a stern word with his child! 

“Son,” he says (in all the versions of the joke I’ve heard baby balloon is assumed to be a boy, probably because sexism and male seen as the default BUT THATS NOT THE POINT) “Not only have you let me down… You’ve let your mother down… and most importantly- you’ve let yourself down.”

It is supposed to be a ha-ha balloon parenting joke, because he disappointed them but he also deflated them! Hilarious word play. On an average day, I’m so into wordplay. On the majority of days this summer though…

Not so much. I’m no longer crying all the time- which is great. But I am sleeping a lot more, and stressing so much over things that are taking me forever to address. I can’t really tell the time, because it seems like a bit of a blur and also- time isn’t real.

And yet, I am giving myself the stern talking to that daddy balloon is giving his child. I am wondering if this behaviour is letting down my family- but most importantly myself.

When I graduated from my English and Philosophy degree with a 2:2, I felt like a failure. I know now that I wasn’t, but I’d expected a 2:1 and was told that you know, after university you won’t be considered for a job if you got anything less than a 2:1 (thats how common the degree was getting amongst applicants). After a year of, struggling to break into the field I wanted toLondon, I decided to start an MA course to improve my “employability”.

This time last year I was accepting my place at Kingston University and contacting my old lecturers for educational references. This year, I’m staring at a half-written dissertation and wondering if I did well enough to get a passing grade, and if my overall grade is worth getting a private loan for £8k.

Transitional periods are scary. Despite being 23, there’s nothing I’d like to do more than crawl into my parents bed and hide from the world in that tiny safe space. Maybe one day I’ll be able to laugh at the balloon joke again without igniting anxiety and causing me to doubt myself.

Stretched thin: A learning curve

It’s summer term.

Well, it would be the summer term, if I was still taking classes.

I’ve learned about my limits. I’ve learned about prioritising. I’ve learned about self care.

So, after the Easter break, I had an overloaded schedule. I was travelling and working almost every single day of the week… and I was not coping well. What exactly was taking up my time?

  • Researching and writing assignments for my MA.
  • Attending the final few days of lectures.
  • Working 3-4 days a week at my university on a charity campaign.
  • Interning 3 days a week at a company in North London.
  • Babysitting after these various classes and jobs.
  • Looking for & applying post grad jobs and internships.
  • Trying to squeeze socialising into the few hours I had to spare.

I don’t want to complain about it, because I signed up for all of this. I was stubborn. I refused to reach out for help, or prioritise properly out of pride, and to be honest I suffered for it- but damn, did I learn.

Basically… I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating right. I only had one working hand and, to be honest, I’m still working on rehydrating myself because despite all of the above, I was still trying to act like I could handle it. Like I wasn’t struggling. Like I had the time to go out with friends and attend events because to present anything other than the image perfection (even if I was failing to juggle everything) was something I could not do.

I need to be able to understand that while I can do so many things at once, doesn’t mean that I should– especially when I’m trying to perform at a high standard. Because I’m still recovering from a burn out. So I need to learn how to say “No.” Which funnily enough was one of the things we were taught on the course, clearly it has taken a while to sink in.

I need to be able to ask for help. Suffering in silence is not cool, it doesn’t make me stronger- only tired. Despite my broken hand, I was still trying to perform as though I had both hands at my disposal. And never actually able to reach those goals, which had me feeling down because I knew people who had situations that I saw as “harder” than mine continuing to do great things- and I’m terribly self-critizing. And I’ve not been able to break the habit of comparing myself to others just yet.

I need to feel comfortable unplugged. I spent almost every waking hour on the in front of a luminously bright screen, which did not help me get as much sleep as I needed. (I believe it has something to do with the blue screen?) I’ve recently downloaded a set off applications that mimic artificial light when the sun goes down- so that my brain knows the time to sleep is soon. I’ve even started to leave my laptop downstairs and my phone across the room instead of giving into temptation of accessing them when I’m frustrated by how long it’s taking for sleep to visit me.

I need to make time for myself, I need to take care of myself. It’s not normal to literally be crying over spilled milk  (in private, quietly and ashamed) because everything else has you so high strung that a small spill feels like the end of the world. In joining my council library, I’ve given myself access to thousands of books with no extra stress on my wallet, which has given me the opportunity to actually read for pleasure with no guilt, and I have never been more thankful.

And now, as my load has lightened, I honestly do not need to put myself through so much stress again in the year. Having this experience so close to the three months that I have to  work on my dissertation? I’m trying to find the silver lining. Kinda succeeding too.