Someone should have told me that I would randomly decide to acquire 30 plants in my mid-twenties and how amazing it would be for my mental health. I know that sounds a bit crazy, but let me explain.
At the beginning of this year, I was struggling with my mental health. I was continuing to regroup after the sudden end of a very emotionally draining relationship and found myself grappling to let go of a toxic friendship that was no longer benefiting either party. Combined with school, work and everyday stressors and anxiety, it wasn’t an easy time.
I have always been the type of person that holds on to people even if they are no longer good for me and have always felt the need to pour a lot of myself into caring for others. This year I woke up one day and decided I needed to transfer that energy to something else and stop relying on other people to fill that need to fix and care for something.
My first year at East Carolina University, I was given a succulent as a “dorm-warming” gift and I killed it. Somehow that didn’t deter my odd, all-consuming need to buy plants that came over me one day. I put a lot of thought into it as well. I did the research and looked up plants that didn’t require a lot of maintenance.
Fast forward five months and I have about 30 plants of various sizes and varieties. Needless to say, it escalated quickly. I will admit that the stay-at-home order didn’t help things. Plus I have an online shopping problem and yes, you can buy plants online.
I am happy to report that all of my plants are mostly alive. By mostly, I mean some of them have lost some leaves and had some bad days as I have navigated caring for a growing collection of plants that have different needs and requirements. I can honestly say that I feel like I have grown with them.
Having house plants is great for boosting oxygen levels in your house and many varieties of plants help keep your air clean. Not to mention they are very aesthetically pleasing, even if your sister glares at you when she sees a new plant on the shelf and says the house is turning into a jungle. Houseplants have also been known to help reduce anxiety and stress.
For me, there is a comfort in walking around my house and checking all of my plants on a regular basis. It definitely has given me something to do while being inside more. Checking for dead leaves, making sure that they don’t need to be watered and just admiring their individual beauty.
Even in the short amount of time that I have had my plants they have taught me several things about life and myself. One being that I actually can keep the right plants alive and succulents aren’t as easy as everyone says.
Life lesson number one, sometimes things just don’t work how you want them. No matter how hard you try and how much you love something, sometimes it just isn’t the right environment for something to grow. You can follow all of the instructions and take all of the outside advice and it will still die. It is a part of life and at some point, you have to accept that you can’t save everything and move on.
The second lesson I will share is that you have to be patient and let the roots develop before you see the real growth. You can’t always see the roots growing and with some it takes a really long time. You just have to be patient and trust the process and I know that it can be hard, but it is so worth it when you see that new healthy growth forming.
My plants have given me an outlet to pour myself into in a productive way that doesn’t have me relying on unhealthy relationships. Growing them has helped me grow as a person. It has been challenging, fruitful and amazing. I have learned that some plants just don’t like it at my house and that’s okay.
It allowed me to shift that need to save and nurture things onto something that can’t verbally respond but just by living gives love in return. I have healthy plants and healthy relationships with people that I don’t need to hold up. I can care for my plants and myself and help others where I can, but I don’t depend on my friends to be that outlet for me.
Most importantly I am not afraid to let go of people who I have given too much of myself to that are no longer meant to be in my life. Don’t let killing one plant keep you from buying another and trying again. Maybe that plant just wasn’t right for you. Also, don’t start with succulents. They aren’t easy and you will probably kill it.