Tending My Flower

While exploring the flower in my mind, I honestly did not discover anything too new. I did, however, gain a greater understanding of my interests. Each petal within this exercise from Richard N. Bolles What Color Is Your Parachute? explores a different important aspect of one’s career and life. The seven petals cover my favorite people, working conditions, skills, values, and interests. Furthermore, they also help me explore my preferred geographical location and preferred salary. Before completing the extensive exercise, I had high hopes. I’ll finally figure out what to do in two months when I graduate!, I thought. However, after tending my flower I did not come out of that mental garden very differently.

Throughout this piece, I am purposely avoiding the use of the word “discovering” and instead favoring “exploring,” as it more accurately describes my process. Before going into this process, I already had a pretty strong idea that I’d go into teaching, at least for the short term. The flower exercise supported this inclination though did not necessarily bring me to a conclusion. I also, prior to this exercise, considered non-profit and think-tank work, though, again, I did not come to any conclusions.

However, my experience was not wholly negative. Actually, it wasn’t negative at all, it was merely, for the most part, neutral. The most positive part came during my exploration of my skills, traits, and values. I finally have words and phrases to slap on my resume! – or at least a starting point. By separating my skills from my traits and then ranking them respectively, I explored what I like to do and which of those I am then good at. Entertaining, perceiving patterns, and researching came out at the top of my skills list. I also explored how I am assertive, calm, and appreciative. Defining these key aspects of my personality, interests, and work ethic strengthens my mental image of myself and further pushes me toward teaching as an initial career path. These specific petals helped me form a greater understanding of my role as a possible educator; I know I don’t want to jump into the public school system, as I never liked the aura of the prison-like buildings and organization, though it does encourage me to explore other options.

Two petals did not necessarily help me at all: the one on geography and the one on salary. Instead of providing me answers, they merely pointed in a vague direction, a direction that I already figured I’d explore. This may be the case, however, because I know I want to explore many different geographical locations before I settle down. So, how is this exercise supposed to pull out my geographical preferences if I refuse to have any? It can’t, so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt there. I found myself in the same situation with the salary petal. I don’t really think about money in terms of possessions, but rather in terms of living comfortably. I do want a family eventually, but only after I’m settled, so, I don’t believe I need to investigate those aspects yet. I know I won’t put up with a lot of responsibility with insufficient pay, so that part of the petal was not too enlightening either.

Overall, though, this exercise proved helpful. I didn’t feel a major sense of enlightenment; I didn’t experience a miracle. But I did enjoy myself – mostly. I defined some traits, and I further strengthened my affinity towards teaching and tutoring. Would I recommend this to a friend? Maybe… maybe if they were very lost. If they were just cruising along life like myself, however, I would perhaps just point them to the skills and values and interests petals.

One Response to Tending My Flower

  1. Prof VZ April 6, 2023 at 3:24 pm #

    I like the idea that this exercise helped strengthen your mental image of yourself–that’s really the most we can hope for. Also, the resume fodder, the basic vocabulary of skills and values, can help. We might not learn anything new, but we learn new ways of describing what we value, what we’re good at, and what we’ve done. And, hopefully, we leave with a sense that those three things will come into increasingly alignment in the future.

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