Life’s a Garden, So Dig It!

Prior to attempting the Flower Exercise in Richard N. Bolles’ What Color Is Your Parachute, I imagined that I was going to fly right through each of the seven petals in a rather joyful manner. I soon quickly realized that I found the exercises of deciding what I don’t want to be somewhat frustrating, as I began to relive all of the weird and tedious experiences I’ve had in my short time in the working world.

Going through these exercises made me disappointed in the way people around me try to prepare for their life and career beyond college. While I think it is great to have some sense of direction and preparation for what a person wants to do, my own personal beliefs make me feel like this micro-analyzing of what we want and don’t want out of our futures is pointless.

Still, as someone who isn’t exactly sure what my plan is after graduation, I find trying to do something like the Flower Exercise just places me on an unnecessary plane of worrying about trying to get into the very best thing (or even what the people around me might consider to be the very best thing).

But to at least prove that there was an attempt made, I will share some of the interesting findings that I did find somewhat useful to an extent. Petal One made me realize I do not like working with childish people—going through the prioritizing grid of what’s worse to work with, I circled that choice every single time in an almost giddy manner thinking about all of the people I’ve worked with.

Petal Two led me to make the interesting discovery that I don’t like to be watched by people that I don’t work with (some background, I worked at a dog daycare with cameras accessible to everyone, and they always called in for the smallest complaints. Then working in road construction, I’ve always had random people linger around me while I work and make unnecessary comments all the while). Yet, on the same note, I thoroughly enjoy working with people and having a space for communication with them.

With a majority of the petals, I will say I felt like it was all mostly a shot in the dark. As someone who is so young and hasn’t really done anything, I can say that trying to figure out my desired salary and desired location is not something I want to worry about. I love the idea of visualizing what my ideal point in life would be, but I feel like this book goes about it in a way that doesn’t actually let you do something about it. You sort of just put down negatives and then figure out the positives, only to keep some idea of that in your back pocket.

I realize that the things I like or the things I’m good at are not going to be the same exact thing in the next 5 years. While this exercise is useful in highlighting what my skills and job interests are, it’s not exactly something I feel like I am always going to be doing.

To attempt to combat all of this negative-sounding jargon, I will say I did love reading Petal Seven. It actually made me smile to look through it because it does highlight a lot of the deep self-reflective modes I find myself in—since my central belief is that everyone should follow their passions (that’s likely what your purpose is!). Despite the realistic practicality that some people might call me out on, I’ve found that there are always going to be ebbs and flows of what life throws at us. We can’t be fully prepared for what comes next, because most of the time what we prepare for doesn’t exactly pan out.

In the small space of time that we spend worrying about what we want to do with our lives or how much money we should be making, it (to me at least) just wastes a lot of time trying to experience things. So down to the outcome of this exercise, I still stand on my belief that we ought to lean into what we are interested in or what calls to us (hence me being an English major for the hell of it).  Over time the interest or job might change, but that’s okay. As long as you enjoy that interest or passion you pursue, then I feel like it’s worthwhile.

One Response to Life’s a Garden, So Dig It!

  1. Prof VZ April 6, 2023 at 3:04 pm #

    I’d love to learn more about where petal 7 left you in terms of those deeper values and passions–especially as that is a priority for your approach. Ideally, our values will align with skills (things we’re good at) and experiences (things we’ve done). That alignment doesn’t often start right away, but thinking towards that alignment is a great goal.

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