I often drive a particular back road rather than the highway because I love to look at the expensive houses with well-manicured lawns. The homes are beautiful, featuring landscaping-company orderliness and, for many, river views. The sight of them soothes my spirit (and might just make me a teeny bit jealous of those who get to live there).
Last week, though, they made me laugh. As I surveyed the lovely spring plantings of daffodils and pansies, nestled precisely within the rich, dark mulch, something incongruous appeared. Forsythia.
The riotous branches of the forsythia bushes in several yards shot in crazy directions, refusing to be tamed by the landscapers. Their bright yellow flowers only drew more attention to their scraggly, wayward branches. And even though they weren’t perfectly coifed—no, because they weren’t perfectly coifed—they gave me joy. The forsythia was doing what forsythia was created to do. Being undignified. Blooming in its own unique style.
As I drove along, having just left my American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) breakfast, it occurred to me that I am the forsythia of ABWA. While the others in my chapter always look put together and professional, I’m simply me. Even when I try to tame me, putting on something nicer than a Life Is Good t-shirt and a pair of jeans, it doesn’t really work. Something is sticking out somewhere; I’m never perfectly coifed. To be truthful, I’m pretty much the forsythia of my church and of any writers group or anything else I attend. My hope is that in all my straggly quirkiness I bring joy (or at least laughter) to those looking on.
So if you, too, often feel like the untamable forsythia in you circle, BE the forsythia:
Bloom brightly—Don’t hide your creativity. Own it, embrace it, flaunt it.
Don’t be intimidated by the perfect people—It takes a lot of work to always look perfect, and, often, a lot of denying your true self. We forsythias don’t have time for that. We have way too much joyous living to do.
Don’t allow others to trim you back—On our trip this weekend we saw several patches of forsythia trimmed to within an inch of their lives to look like a neat, pristine hedge or a trio of bulb-shaped topiaries. It just looked pathetic. Forsythia isn’t meant to be aligned, tamed. Don’t allow someone to remold you into their desired image. Be yourself. Boldly. Brashly. Confidently.
Now, when I go places I know I won’t quite fit in, places where I might stick out for my nonconformity to the accepted professional look, I will remind myself:
I am a forsythia.
And I will splay my riotous branches and bloom.
(I hope you will too!)
2 thoughts on “The Forsythia of Professional Women”
Carol — I never thought of you as a forsythia because you always seem perfectly YOU whenever I see you!
However, I completely get this analogy and applaud your advice for folks to be real and be themselves. Let’s celebrate our unique styles and personalities — that’s what makes our world colorful and fun!
Thank you, for giving me a positive picture of the way I feel. I love the forsythia and the way it blooms despite harsh winters, the way it spreads and can easily be transplanted by taking clippings.