Orchids, Dandelions, and Self-Acceptance.
While working as a counsellor, I came across the theory of the orchid and the dandelion. For those who don’t know about the orchid flower, they are highly sensitive. Orchid societies exist for the sole purpose of growing orchids. Compare that with a dandelion. You cannot get them to not grow. They will come up through cracks in the pavement like it is the perfect spot.
The orchid/dandelion theory states that people have varying degrees of sensitivity. Some tend to fall on the “orchid” side, while others tend to be more like “dandelions.” Those on the “orchid” side are more sensitive to their environment and their emotions. Someone falling on the “dandelion” side can appear to be able to control their emotions more effectively and be in different settings without being too phased.
While it might seem like life would be harder as an orchid, it can come with a rare beauty. In the right environment, with the right variables, orchids can be stunning. Same is true with people. With a higher sensitivity comes an increased capacity for creativity, depth, and perception. But it comes with a cost.
In order to access those qualities, people with a high sensitivity must learn the variables they need. They must choose environments that are conducive to their growth, and their self-care practices need to be finely tuned. When the variables are not quite right and needs are not getting met, someone who is an “orchid” can expect to get hit harder than their dandelion friend.
I am an “orchid.” It took me a long time to figure this out about myself. I didn’t even know that this continuum existed until I was in my late 20s. When I heard about it, I felt like my existence made sense. I started pulling my hair out when I was in fifth grade because I had so much anxiety.
I felt like I had to run away from my emotions because they always felt too big. I developed a skin picking disorder to self-soothe. The person I was in fifth grade is still who I am today. Despite all the emotional work, therapy, and meditation I do, I cannot outrun who I am. No matter how much I want to be okay with certain things, my nervous system disagrees. I will always be an “orchid.”
There comes a time when rather than running from the truth of who we are, we turn around and face it head-on. There comes a time when we stop trying to “fix” and we start to accept. At 32 years old, I now know the types of environments and self-care practices I need in order for me to feel okay.
No amount of therapy can make me okay in environments that are not good for me. No amount of “fixing” will make it so I can live my life like other people.
I cannot. I must care for my orchid soul. There is power in realizing we cannot change who we are. We can grow, we can heal, we can become better versions of ourselves. But we cannot outrun ourselves. We eventually come to a place where we say, “No more running, no more fixing, and no more trying to fit in.”
The world tells us there is a standard way to live. We spend years trying to fit into that standard. It is a great act of rebellion to throw the standard to the wind and create a life that sets your soul free.