published by L. Chris Cannida, MS, LPC – April 6, 2016
April is the Month of the Military Child. The dandelion is the official flower of military children – representing their resilience in the midst of constant change and uncertainty. In honor of the smallest, and strongest members of our military community, I am reposting this one. Honored to have been compared to such a phenomenal group of people – military children.
“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely” – C.G. Jung
My therapist asked me once if I considered myself a dandelion or an orchid. She went on to say she believed I was, of course, a dandelion.
My own therapist had dubbed me a weed.
She was brilliant at leaving me in the space of ambiguity, allowing me to resolve for myself exactly what she’d meant. I was familiar with the metaphor and it was intended as affirmation and to promote my self-awareness. She was saying that, like a dandelion, I was able to grow almost anywhere. She meant that I was not like an orchid, needing everything and everyone around me to be perfect according to my requirements in order for me to flourish. She wanted me to know that, unlike an orchid which falters if handled too much, I could be grazed by the nuances of others’ mistakes and mishaps in life, only to continue growing strong. After all, orchids don’t thrive as easily as weeds. Anyone who has ever tried growing an orchid knows if you brush up against it, if you move its location multiple times, the orchid may struggle from the changes and possibly be uprooted and die.
And while she intended for me to feel strong, I did, until the imposition of social expectation took over. Who wants to be a weed? I mean, after all, I’d struggled with being an ugly duckling all my life. I’d wanted to be like an orchid. But, alas, I was a dandelion. Now I had the choice of accepting it. Being prone to reading everything I can get my hands on, I set out to read about myself, the dandelion. I found work by a man named “Wildman” Steve Brill who had studied plants and explains “Dandelions are especially well-adapted to a modern world of ‘disturbed habitats’. Unless you remove it completely, it will regenerate. If you break off more pieces than you unearth, the dandelion wins”. I started to feel a bit better about my dandelion life after reading his descriptions.
Allowing myself to just be present with the idea without evaluating it as negative began to help my self-acceptance.
Later that day, it struck me as so funny that I laughed out loud and had a strange wave of peace sweep over me. In that moment, I felt courageous. Like I could be myself and it was okay. In that acceptance, came the realization that I could actually be anything I wanted – dandelion or orchid. If I wanted to require a certain ‘perfection’ before I stepped forward with decisions, I could.
I decided that even if that moment of clarity and congruence didn’t last, I would be forever grateful to my therapist for giving me a chance to feel it. I set my course to make sure I am always prepared to help others create that soulful, spiritual place in themselves to accept who they have been created to be for the sake of survival – as dandelions or orchids – to tell their own very truthful, authentic stories of being. No need to create an identity or story that doesn’t actually exist – which we sometimes are tempted to do in order to perceive the world is finally hearing us.
It’s windy outside today and it may rain. One of my colleagues irritated me just a bit. My son did that thing that drives me nuts, again. And I’m currently plagued by some long-standing patterns of behavior that seem to hold me back. Today, I am grateful to be a dandelion. Despite the frustrations of my day, I’m surely bound to survive anyway, maybe even grow. I’m still here – I’m not unearthed completely – I win against the wind and the rains of change.
Yours Truly –