I’m In the Slime of My Life!

Oobleck and Other States of Matter

An African American child prepares to touch a jar of slime.
Photo by Pexel User Monstera.

When I was younger, I had two states of being.

In my personal life, I was fluid, like water. Which is to say that I went with the flow, and rarely set boundaries with others. I told myself, “this is what a good friend / girlfriend / wife is.” I thought, if I was so “low maintenance” not to ask anything of anyone, people would always love me. But, as any recovering people pleaser would tell you, that’s simply not true. Even worse, I found I didn’t always love me, because I was disrespecting boundaries I had with myself.

On the other hand, in my professional life, I was solid, like brick. Which is to say that I was sturdy, and rigid with my work. I told myself, “this is what a good student / employee is.” I thought, if I was “strong enough,” and never deviated from my plans, people would see me as reliable and trustworthy. But, as any recovering perfectionist would tell you, that’s simply not true either. Even worse, I found I didn’t always find myself reliable or trustworthy, because sometimes my plans fell through.

As I begin this, my fifteenth year at First Unitarian Church, I’ve been reflecting on just how much I’ve grown over the past decade and a half. And, thinking on it, I no longer feel as if I am only fluid like water, or solid like brick. No, these days, I’m both at all times, like Oobleck!

If you aren’t familiar with Oobleck, it is a type of slime made from mixing cornstarch and water. It’s known as a non-Newtonian fluid because when left to rest, it flows much like a fluid, but when it’s placed under pressure it becomes rigid like a solid. And, that’s how I feel! Given the opportunity, I am happy to ‘go with the flow,’ to fit in where there are cracks, and find creative solutions to problems. But, the moment I find myself under pressure, the moment one of my boundaries are pushed on, I become solid and strong. And, I find that empowering.

Perhaps, in another 15 years, I’ll look back and find this, too, is a failed state of being. Perhaps, I’ll look back and find I should have been gas this whole time. But, that’s okay. We’re not meant to stay in one state of being our entire lives.

I wonder…

  • What state are you in right now?
  • When was the last time you were solid / fluid / gas / Oobleck, what did you learn from that experience?

Want to know more about Oobleck? You can see a demonstration, and learn a bit about the science here.