I BOUGHT MYSELF FLOWERS.
This past winter was the first time I ever got someone flowers. No, it wasn’t because I fancied her. A couple of days earlier, she had told me how she did not fancy flowers, how she thought that they were a bit of waste seeing that they would die out anyway. Now, I am an incredibly stubborn individual, and in true Mr. Munyama fashion, I thought that it would be a great idea to try and change her mind. And so on a Saturday afternoon, after she left for work, I walked to the nearest florist and put together a bouquet of daisies. I then set it on her bed alongside a note that took 35 attempts to write.
For some intangible reason, I was quite nervous when she came home later that evening, heart running a marathon, sweaty palms; I was as a little kid waiting for the adult to find out I had discovered a new way make a mess. When she walked into her room, bar the hissing from the dinner I was cooking and my own breathing, the house fell dead silent for a minute and I thought, “Right, I shouldn’t have done that then.” She stepped out after what felt like an eternity. And I tried to search her eyes as she walked towards me because... the eyes, Chico, they never lie. While it was that ever present look that was dominant, the skeptical one, the one that trusts nothing, doubts everything, and always questions intention, there was also a glint of excitement, a euphoria that lay beneath (or at least I think so. Perhaps I just saw what I hoped to see); they, her eyes, sparked with an ingenuous childlike delight when she said, “thank you,” they sparked with a hint of, “I was not expecting that.” It amazed me how, to me, this was so miniature an act, an effortless one, something that took very little of me, but it made another being smile. And for a moment, I hoped that someday it would be me on the other end, that this would be a good deed that I was throwing out into the world for it to come back to me later on (a bit selfish, I know), that someday, someone would do for me too what they thought would be minuscule but impactful , that I too would have that spark in my eyes.
This past weekend somebody got me flowers. It was not what I had imagined receiving my first bouquet of flowers would be like. I had had a hard week. On several occasions, everything threatened to fall apart, to just crumble to bits. I, myself, was falling apart. It was as though I was being picked apart and being asked to go on without the missing pieces. But whenever I got to breaking point, I did not crack. I instead put my head down and worked my way through. And by the end of the week, everything was falling in place again. I was extremely proud of myself for navigating everything the way I did, for getting through it all by myself, and I thought that I deserved my flowers for doing so… in the literal sense. So, I bought myself flowers. On a Saturday afternoon, similar to the one on which I had first bought somebody else flowers, I strolled to the nearest flower shop to do the same for myself. It was a cramped-up space, the size of a cubicle, different hued flowers sprouting from each of the four walls. The size of it gave the whole predicament an unnerving feel, as though this were against some unwritten law, as though this weren’t a normal thing I was doing. And my thumping heart seemed to concurred.
As I scampered back home, white roses in hand, I wondered why this did not feel as effortless, why it felt a bit tedious, as though I were doing a lot for myself, why it felt like an act of conceitedness. I did not feel that childlike excitement. I did not feel the euphoria I assume she felt, my heart did not melt, nor was there a spark in my eyes. And I realized how we… how I have spent a large portion of my life waiting for people. Theoretically, I know better than to do so. But subconsciously, I have been building my life around waiting for people. Because that is what are taught to do; that is how we are conditioned to think and live. So we wait for people to see our bits of progress, to see the work we have put in and say, “I am proud of you," to call us geniuses. We are taught to wait for people to "be there for us", to cheer us on and root for us. We wait for people to be happy for and with us, to make us happy. We wait to have people we can lean on when it gets hard, people we can call at 2am to talk about how crappy the day was. We are taught to wait to have people hand us our flowers. We aren't taught to do all this for ourselves. We are more conditioned to be symbiotic beings than we are to be independent ones. Were this not true, we would not be a generation of people that seems to not have the slightest clue how to be alone.
But see, no one, but you, is responsible for you. You are your person before you are anybody else’s. Thus, no one is obliged to be anything to you, or to do… anything for you. No one is under any obligation to take care of you, to make you happy, to be proud of you, to cheer you on, to show up for you… all that is your responsibility first and foremost. You are not entitled to anyone's kindness, love or care. You are your own responsibility. Everything pertaining to your well-being, your happiness, your success, and everything in between is your responsibility. And heaping that on other people is not only unfair, but also one of the quickest routes to discontentment and unhappiness. None of that is to say that you will not need people. Of course, you will. We all will. We are innately social beings; no one has ever thrived in complete solitude. We all need people in our corners. But people come and go; they are here today and gone before your eyelids touch. You, however, will remain. You are the only constant in your life, the only permanent presence. Thus, if you do not learn to be your own… everything, you will not make it through.
And so on that Saturday afternoon, I decided that this was not me being conceited, that I had every right to feel pride, to feel a sense of contentment; I decided that I would be incredibly proud of myself. I would be proud of myself for being content, for being content with myself, with my work, with my efforts, for being content enough to be proud of myself, enough to celebrate myself and my small win even though it went unnoticed by everyone else. I decided that I need not wait for anyone anymore.
Perhaps we should all learn to stop waiting for people so much. Learn to be to yourself everything you wish other people were to you. Be the person who handles you with the most care, as though you were the most precious thing in the world, the person who looks out for you, the one who listens to you and tends to your needs before anyone else. Be the person that makes you happy; make your own company the most enjoyable to be in, your mind the most jovial and serine place to reside. Talk to yourself: have honest conversations with yourself, tell yourself the hard truths, the things you would rather not hear; hell, tell yourself the jokes, the stories you wish you could tell other people and burst out in laughter if you have to. Tell yourself all the things you wish other people told you: tell yourself how beautiful or handsome you are, how you are completely capable of everything and anything, how nothing can stand in your way, how you can go on and do it all.
Be your loudest cheerleader, your own hype-man: root for yourself always, back yourself to go on and make it, push yourself to keep going, to never give in. Celebrate yourself: no one understands you better than you, no one understands what it takes to be you, nobody fathoms the battles you have fought thus far. So, celebrate your damn self, tell yourself how proud you are of you for coming as far as you have, celebrate those tiny wins as though they were the grandest to have ever been witnessed. Show up for you always. Be your own rock and support system. Be your own person. And may other people’s contributions be but additives, never necessities. Most importantly, buy yourself a bouquet of white roses.
Also, she doesn’t think flowers are that bad anymore.