It was my sophomore fall when I got my first plant for my dorm. I had heard from a lot of upper classmen about how they were ‘plant moms’ or they loved buying plants, and as someone who had never owned a plant in my life, I did not see the appeal. I was passing by the campus center where they were giving away free bamboo plants and, as a sucker for free stuff, I could not pass up this opportunity. As I set my beautiful bamboo plant on my desk, I admired the new addition to my room and was grateful for the green in a room of white walls and brown furniture. My attachment to the plant grew as she (my plant) began dying and wilting. I began to obsess over her. I would over water her, move locations, talk to her, and just pour myself into this one bamboo plant. I didn’t realize how important it was for me to care for something else.
When I would underwater or overwater my plant, give her too much sunlight or not enough sunlight, I reflected on the unique needs of each plant. There are the necessities that they need (water and sun), but it wasn’t about how much I thought they needed or where they would look best. If what I was giving my plant wasn’t what she needed, she would not grow, she would wilt, turn brown, and leaves would fall off. I had to learn the unique combination that would make my plant thrive. Similarly, there are necessities that I had as a student and as a person. It wasn’t about making sure I ate a meal or eventually went to sleep. It was about nourishing my body with what I needed at the moment (whether that be healthy or some fries from the Commons) and if it meant that an assignment did not get done in time, but I needed to sleep 8 hours, then it didn’t get done in time.
Self-care in college is hard. Finding what works for you to decompress and to feel sane takes a long time and honestly isn’t always a priority in college (even though it should be). I did not realize how important it is to care for something else as you want to care for yourself or would want someone to care for you. Even if I did not have time to watch a show for self-care every night, it would make me feel so much better to give my bamboo plant a single drop of water. I wanted her to know that even if I didn’t have time to take care of her all the time, I still saw her and cared for her. Clearly I was projecting onto this single plant, which is a lot- but I was also letting myself know that even if I didn’t have all day to do the things that I needed, I saw all my effort and valued myself.
Some of you may read this and think I’m really stretching it here, others will know exactly what I’m talking about. If you have not invested in a plant, I encourage you to do so and then hit me up on what you learn about your plant and yourself!