Unusual Metaphors Teaching About Life

Do Fish Know If They're In A Fishbowl?

An unusual metaphor that everyone should know.


The other day, my professor asked my class a profound question with the attempt throw us off and make us actually think about the answer before shouting it out: Does a fish know if it is living in a fishbowl? After she asked us, the usual outgoing class was quite quiet. No one could come up with a definite answer if a fish really did or did not know if they live in a fishbowl. It was an impossible question because none of us would ever be able to really know if a fish knew of this situation it was in. However, our professor made a comparison to the set of circumstances that I would have never thought of on my own.

The next thing my professor said made me reevaluate every interaction I've had in my life up to now. She went on to explain the idea that what if we are like fish that are not aware we are living in a fishbowl. Let me explain more:

Our 'fishbowl' is obviously not meant to be a literal glass sphere that we are trapped in, but rather a metaphor for the life we live and are aware of. For example, the way we grow up, how we are raised and the things that surround us would be considered our fishbowl. Every person in the world has their own story and characteristics that automatically put them in their own metaphorical bowl, constricting what we see and what comes out of our world, similar to a fish in their own living space.

The next exercise we did helped explain this concept a little more. She asked us to make a list of things that would contribute to and be included in our 'fishbowl'. This part of the explanation was hard for the class as a whole as it's scary to be vulnerable and talk about things that might possibly be the reason we are trapped in our 'bowl'. However, after I listed mine out, I understood this concept even deeper than before. The things in my fishbowl consist of things that I am familiar with and have grown up to know as my home, my life and just simply myself. Things in your bowl could include your race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, political beliefs, family life, and the list goes on. All of these things subconsciously contribute to your clouded and incomplete view of the world, whether you are aware of it or not.

However, if you DO become aware of this concept, it makes the one thing I have learned a lot easier to accomplish:


Trust me, I know staying in your fishbowl is the comfortable and ~safe~ thing to do. I get that. However, we, in fact, are not literal beta fish in a glass bowl on somebody's kitchen counter (lol obviously). We have the whole world to explore and have the ability to come across every person, place and/or thing.

I know this is an interesting way of explaining this and I hope it makes sense to at least a few of the people reading this. But even if the metaphor is too complicated, I hope the message comes across the same: don't stay in your fishbowl forever. Explore the world and the people in it. This is something that I need to work on and plan to do in the future.

And with that being said, I'll catch you on the other side of the bowl. (:

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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