The Rose Within

Welcome to the next installment of our “More About Me” series. Today’s post is by Jessica Fortunato, registered marriage and family therapy intern.

“The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change: Yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.” – Paulo Coelho

I love the metaphor of a rose when talking about the entirety of a person. Because just like a rose, you and I are who we are regardless of the moment we’re in. But if you were to look at me right now, and if I were to look at you, we would only see a stationary picture of who we are. In one isolated moment we wouldn’t be able to see each other’s process of change – we wouldn’t know the whole story.

The whole story of a rose begins with the seed, just as we begin as children. Each seed is planted in soil, either rich with nutrients or lacking in substance. The soil may represent our families and our life circumstances. After being planted the seed needs both water and sunlight to grow, but it needs these in very specific amounts. If you give two roses exactly the same sunlight and exactly the same water, but they are different varieties of roses or planted in different areas, they won’t grow the same.

We are as unique as these roses. Each one of us needs a precise amount of sunlight and water to grow. Our sunlight and water may be love, attention, support, provision, etc. And the story of who you are is a culmination of all that you received and all that you didn’t.

Understanding your story is the first step to understanding yourself. And once you can identify the soil, sunlight, and water that you had or didn’t have in your life, you can begin to understand the rose that you are. Because regardless of the conditions you grew in, you are still a rose. Whether the rose flourished or hardly had the chance to bud, it is still a rose. Our essence, our potential, is oftentimes locked inside of us, just like a rose without the right conditions. But each one of us has the ability to unlock that rose.

I was planted in soil that could sustain life, but I didn’t get all of the sunlight and water that I needed, so I didn’t flourish. This left me desperate for sunlight and water. So I spent much of my life searching for it, trying to change and deny my essence so that I could receive sunlight and water from any source. I was able to pretend that this was working for a while, but I never felt whole. Then I began to slowly own my essence again, and little by little I believed that I truly was a rose – not only able to bloom, but able to flourish.

This is but a glimpse at my story. You have a story, too; we all do. And just like a rose, none of our stories are without thorns. But what I’ve witnessed along the way is an amazing transformation of perspective, both in others and myself. The following quotation describes this transformation beautifully:

“You complain about seeing thorny rose bushes; me, I rejoice and give thanks to the gods that thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr

In the beginning of my rose reclamation all I could do was complain that roses have thorns. But now I am thankful that all my thorns still have a rose. I am that rose. And you are that rose too. No thorn can keep you from the beautiful reality of who you are, as long as you don’t let it.

Wherever you are today – whatever your circumstance – remember that you are a rose through and through. Be kind to yourself today. Someday soon you will unlock that rose for all to see. But until then remember that you are ever changing – even if you can’t see it at first glance.

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