A few weeks ago, my boyfriend surprised me with flowers for Valentine’s Day. While this may not surprise most of you, we typically aren’t the gift giving people. For those of you wondering, he got homemade banana bread and heart shaped cookies, which he claims was the better end of the exchange. I was personally ecstatic about the flowers. The flowers were beautiful the day he gave them to me and are still going strong. I originally classified the flowers as “pretty” flowers (My skills do not include identifying flora), but was later educated that there was one rose, some lilies, and some carnations.
My parents were married for 27 happy years before my mom passed away, so my dad has a wealth of knowledge regarding relationships, and I learned this year, flowers as well. He shared with me that to make the flowers last longer, you should cut off a quarter of an inch off the bottom of the stems and replace the water every other day. After three times of doing that, he looked at me and asked “Do you see the metaphor?”
(For once) I did. The metaphor was that in order for relationships to stay beautiful and healthy, it is important to give them care every other day (or more *wink*–from my perspective, more often is better). My dad, who is more of a poet than I am, expanded upon the metaphor I had uncovered on my own. In order for flowers to grow, it is important to have healthy soil (a healthy environment) and to have enough water and sunlight (resources for a healthy relationship — communication, trust, and quality time). In addition, to have the best flowers, you need to remove the weeds from around the flower (toxic habits and people) and to prune the flowers (working through and resolving problems as they arise).
The irony in this metaphor is that my dad never once bought flowers for my mother–she believed them to be a waste of money. I, on the other hand, loved the gesture. The cost of the bouquet, the type of flower, or the quantity is irrelevant. To me, it is the care that the flowers represent that is the greatest gift of all. In the current times of our lives as college students, it simply isn’t realistic to be able to spend a significant amount of time with your significant other everyday. While some of you may laugh (and you have every right to), every time I walked past my vase of flowers, I stopped for a minute, smelled them, and smiled knowing that my boyfriend and I don’t need to be together every minute to have a strong relationship.
This is true for all relationships, not just romantic ones. The age old adage, “whatever you water grows” rings especially true in relationships. The relationships in your life that you invest in, that you give good soil, that you provide nutrients for, and remove the weeds from, will blossom into relationships abounding with blessings.
On campus, you should invest in the relationships with your classmates who will one day become your colleagues in your career, you should invest in the relationships with your professors who can become your mentors, you should invest in the relationships with your friends who will one day have your back when you need them, and for goodness sake you should invest in the relationships with the people who raised you (and call them!).
Investing in relationships can be as simple as sending a “Have a good day!” message, as simple as telling a classmate they did a good job on their presentation, as simple as walking with your friend to their car, as simple as grabbing a coffee every now and then, or as simple sharing a smile and a laugh.
The last year has forced all of us to take a solid look at our priorities, how we spend our time, and what is really important to us. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what brand of potting soil you buy, how cute your watering can is, or how new your garden shovel is. At the end of the day, what is important in life is the people we choose to spend it with.
Relationships are like flowers, and while I may not be able to identify all the types of flowers, I certainly prefer my “pretty” flowers over ones that are droopy and overgrown with weeds. College is the time of our lives where we begin our journey of adulthood (sorry, there are no refunds, I already asked). I am working on growing a garden full of pretty flowers; I am investing in all of the relationships in my life. I am looking forward to being able to look around my life in a few decades and see a bountiful garden full of flowers of all sizes, colors, and types. While I don’t know who will all be in my garden in a few decades, I can promise you they will certainly be “pretty” flowers.
Oh, and for those of you who read this for gardening advice, in between trimming the stems and changing the water every couple of days, take a moment and stop and smell them.
If you enjoyed reading this, check out my previous tips:
This article was updated on March 1 at 7:30 a.m. for grammar.
Anna is a junior at St. Cloud State University and is double majoring in Math Education and Spanish Education, with a minor in Special Education. She is the Managing Editor for the University Chronicle this year. When she is not at campus attending class, working as a learning assistant or math tutor, or writing for the University Chronicle, she enjoys volunteering, reading, being overly competitive at board games, and telling horribly funny puns.