My room is filled with the shriveled reminders of my toxic green thumb


Paulina Diesen

My now plastic plant sitting above my desk.

It has taken me years to find out a very important trait about me: I can’t keep a plant alive for the life of me.

I’ve tried dozens of times, each time hoping for a different result, and each time I end up with a pile of rotting leaves and flowers. 

I have always wondered what pushes me to expect more from myself in the plant-care department. As many times as I prove myself wrong, a part of me believes that I will do better. 

I can’t be sure why, of all things, being able to take care of plants is so important to me, but I believe it has something to do with my need to care for the people around me. 

Just like my desire to make sure that everyone I hold dear to my heart is safe, comfortable, and knows they are loved by me, I need to see that the care I put into something as simple as a succulent is returned by beautiful blooms. 

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for me. 

I’ve managed to go through dozens of plants—even the supposedly unkillable succulents have faced my wrath and come out defeated. 

I’ve learned that it’s best to take the easy route and buy fake succulents and plants that can bring me joy all year round without the hassle of trying to take care of them. 

Just as I’ve found relaxation knowing that sometimes my care is not what a plant needs or that certain plants aren’t right for my poisonous green thumb, I’ve found that sometimes my need to comfort and protect isn’t needed by all my friends and family.

I’ve been used to caring for those around me my whole life, and recently, I’ve taken a step back from my closest people to let them breathe and grow on their own. Just like I need time to thrive, my friends and family also need time to wilt and grow. I need to only be there to help weed out the negativity and give them the positivity they yearn for, but I don’t need to constantly monitor and over water them as I have my small houseplants. 

It’s been a hard lesson to learn and one that my friends may not have even noticed I experienced, but it’s been beneficial to both me and the relationships I value. 

I’ve found that the stress of being the one to help my friends bloom has slowly disappeared, and I’m now left calm after remembering that they have family and friends that are also there to help keep them in health. 

It is not my duty alone, or any one person’s duty, to keep the spirit of an individual alive and blooming. Just as some people or plants are bound to shrivel under my touch, I am bound to shrivel under the crushing weight of expecting too much of myself. 

Humans are just as unique as plants are; we each come with our own specific care instructions, and we each can only survive in certain climates. 

I’ve kept this idea constant in my mind and life that just as I so easily kill plants that are not made for me, the people that surround us can also be the poison that leaks into our roots and makes us shrivel.