Friendship is one of the most valued of all human ideals. I especially cherish my group of friends, and am grateful for their companionship and support as I make my way through my college career at Cal Poly Pomona. There just is something mesmerizing about the connections I share with these individuals, especially in the way they accept me fully - all of me, even my quirks.
Likewise, one of the more unusual things I’ve told each of these friends is an analogy about the friendships we share. I call it my “Garden Analogy,” and as sappy or weird as it may seem, there is truth and usefulness in comparing friendship to plants in a garden.
The analogy is as follows:
Friendship is like a garden. You have those plants that have been there forever - the oak trees with deep roots and strong branches, able to weather any storm. The new trees are much smaller, but they have the potential one day to be as strong. It just takes time and patience to grow into that resilience. Then, you have the seasonal plants. These are wonderful - the flowers that paint the garden with diversity and beauty. Still, deep down you know they will not be in the garden forever, but you enjoy them while they are here. And then, when the new season rolls around, you enjoy the next round of intricate foliage. Still, in any garden, there are times when you might over-water or forget to water a plant - both devastating mistakes. Other times, you may scatter the seeds in weak soil, and the plant grows shallow roots; then, when the storm comes, the plants are not strong enough to survive. Nevertheless, your garden still remains beautiful in the long run. No one is perfect, and gardening - and friendship - isn't either. But, it is still worth it in the end.
In the analogy, the oak trees are representative of family. Think “family trees,” which are expected to be massive with extensive histories. Thus, family is the most powerful of friendships, and ideally has bonds that can stand the test of time, and can withstand almost any storm. Much like a behemoth oak tree cannot be ignored in a garden, family should similarly be a priority. Additionally, family members never truly die, and like the acorns of oak trees, continue to leave their mark generation after generation.
Next are the smaller trees, which are symbolic of best friends. These trees could grow to the size of the oak tree one day, much like some friends become as close as family. Plus, much like trees often yield fruit, best friends benefit your life in rewarding ways. These are the friends worth investing most of your time into.
Of course, the seasonal plants embody the friends in our lives who come and go. Anyone can think back and remember the special childhood friends we all once had; they may not be directly in our lives anymore, but we still enjoyed their company, and cherish their memories. Many of these friends even become like pressed flowers in a journal, as their impact was especially meaningful and something we may remember often.
The mistakes in gardening - over-watering and under-watering - likewise resemble the things humans often do in friendships that lead to that connection’s end. I personally have “under-watered” some of my high school friendships since I arrived at Cal Poly. I was excited by the opportunities for friendship at this college, and ignored several of my past friends in my frenzy. Some of the friendships likewise faded away, like a wilting plant, but my two best friends from high school survived, proving their resiliency even in the drought of our friendship. I am thus grateful for these two friends, and have since nurtured our relationships back to optimal health.
Finally, the idea of scattering the seeds in weak soil symbolizes friendships that sprout up too fast before strong “roots” are able to take hold. During the rush of being a new college student, I made many friends all at once through orientation and the ice-breaker events the school put on for the freshmen. However, I soon realized the fragility of these friendships during my first fight with a group of my new companions. Our ties were not strong enough to make it through this storm, and I unfortunately lost that group of friends. Still, I learned to be careful with the connections I made, and developed a habit thereafter to let my friendships grow on a slower, more natural pace. It was a hard lesson to learn, but I am thankful for these realizations, and have since made better, stronger friendships.
Nevertheless, I think all college students would benefit from seeing friendships as a garden. It would help them appreciate their friends more, and want to nurture the connections, being careful to not over- or under-water them. Likewise, it would give students the understanding of the different types of friends they have in their lives, and would allow them to see the positives and beauty in each of them.
This type of optimistic thinking is something our modern world often lacks, especially in the face of all the disasters and tragic events that seem to unfold week after week. Still, friendships bring much-needed positivity in this dark world, much like colorful flowers against a concrete sidewalk. All in all, viewing friendship as a garden encourages an overall optimistic perspective on life, and fosters a deeper understanding of how friendships work, giving way to healthier, happier connections that are essential in our often-gloomy world.
Thus with this analogy in mind, I look forward to the rest of my years at Cal Poly. I am happy for the lessons I have acquired from some of the plants in my personal garden, and look forward to the lessons to come as I continue to grow at this school. Likewise, I am eager to cultivate the wonderful friends I have made so far, and hope my fellow students can do the same with their own college connections.