Hell Flower

I’ve never been one for “busy-work.” There’s a fine line between the useless and the tedious. As someone who enjoys embroidery, I understand the value of patient, deliberate work. Nevertheless, I found creating my personal “Flower”—writing for whom, with whom, where, why, and for how much I’ll work—to be like counting grains of rice before I can put them in water to cook. Sure, it could be valuable to really slow down and be intentional. However, making my Flower often felt like having to explain myself to an intangible deity called Richard N. Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute?, the accursed Text Mother of the Flower. Why must I tell him where I want to live? Does he need to know I prefer the sea over the mountains? Or coffee over tea? Anyhow, I am willing to share my findings, if only to make the 467,940 “Prioritizing Grids” (see image) worth it.

The easiest “petal” to complete was my ideal office environment. If there’s one thing undergrad has taught me, it’s how to be efficient and comfortable. My perfect formula includes a cup of coffee, a massive cup of lukewarm water, blueberry granola bars, a chair that supports my lower back, a “medium” temperature (don’t get me started on office buildings that keep it 67 degrees), and so many windows I’m at risk of getting sunburned. A plant or two would also be nice, but it’s not a requirement. Now, you may ask, did I have to do this exercise to know all of this? Of course not, it’s completely my opinion! Was it helpful to write down to remind myself in potential job environments? Maybe.

The most difficult “petal” for me to complete was about my salary and preferred level of responsibility, specifically the preferred level of responsibility bit. I think the root of this comes from the fact that I have never had a “real” job, one that could be considered the beginning of a career. I’m not sure if I’d want to lead a team and have assistants becauseI frankly have not done this yet. I know I could do it (I don’t seem to have a problem with talking to much and gaining attention), but the question here is would I want to have this responsibility? I know professors who have struggled over the decision to become dean of their department. While wildly impressive and ultimately a salary booster, it remains an increase of responsibility that has, like all jobs, its own list of cons. Ironically, the amount of interaction one has with the students greatly decreases. If that mentorship is one’s favorite part of their job, do they take the higher level more administrative position? This is the sort of question I personally struggle with, especially because I abhor major changes and transitional periods.

On the whole, I found this exercise to be constraining given the way my brain works. I’ve never been one to keep a journal because it becomes a task I have to complete, a place I must record every interaction and thought I had that day, instead of a place of reflection. Similarly, this Flower has felt like a binding contract, a potential betrayal to my current self if I deviate from the “plan.” That being said, I’ll hold on to my Flower, if only to (a) prove my current self completely right or (b) realize my arrogance as a college senior. While this Flower did not cause me any real harm, mentally or otherwise, I really cannot imagine formally completing a Flower ever, ever again.

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