By Megan Barbee, Panhellenic Vice President of New Member Development
My best friend once said that in order for people to bloom and experience growth, we have to water their seeds. Watering seeds looks a lot like building each other up, meeting each other where we are and empowering each other to be the best versions of ourselves. This made me question how often we take the time to make sure our own seeds are being tended to, something that is a lot harder to do for ourselves.
It is so easy to see how gardening can be used as an analogy for growth. We often hear people speak in idioms about “blooming” and “being planted,” but how often do we think about the role of weeds? This summer I have had the opportunity to volunteer at a community garden, and—quite literally—garden. I have noticed that most of what it takes to cultivate a successful garden is a persistent removal of weeds.
The more I began to analyze this, the more I realized that this generally reflects our brains and how we process the problems that occur in both our conscious and subconscious minds. Like weeds, our problems have to be acknowledged and tamed. We cannot let even the smallest things go untended or else they will continue to grow and overtake the garden. Weeds steal the nutrients that we need to produce the flowers and truly bloom.
Weeds are an overpowering nuisance, but they are an integral part of the gardening process. We all have different types of weeds, and they never really fully go away. They are a part
of what makes up our garden and holds our soil together. We have to learn that having weeds is NORMAL and OKAY. Accepting this is the beginning, and knowing how to keep them maintained at a healthy level is so important.
Tending to our weeds looks different for everyone. Maybe it means you need to make sure your basic needs are in check: is your body physically in check? Are your physical activity and nutrition levels healthy for you? Are you getting enough sleep? Maybe it means taking more time to do things that make you happy: are you spending time with people who build you up and inspire you? Are you doing things that you enjoy in healthy intervals? Maybe it means you need to see a therapist and talk through issues that are far beyond the surface. It looks different for everyone, but it is so important to note that there is not a fine line between mental health and mental illness. We all have to work to be happy, content and at peace with our own minds.
When I was elected to my position as VP of Membership Development, a new CPA position with a job description that was open to interpretation and creativity, I got to decide what could be implemented into our Panhellenic community to better our members. To some, membership development looks like working on leadership skills or focusing on incentivizing scholarship. To me, this meant focusing on mental health awareness. In order to better all of the other areas of our life, we must focus on and challenge the roots of our negative thoughts and beliefs. This has led to a wonderful partnership between College Panhellenic Association and the USC Counseling Center. Our contacts there have allowed us to create mental health programming that is open to everyone, but focuses on Panhellenic women and meeting their needs. I was overtaken with joy seeing the success of the “pilot” sessions hosted in the spring, and cannot wait for what we will offer in the fall.
With this new school year approaching, I encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunities we have with CPA mental health programming, the 10 free sessions at the USC Counseling Center and generally just monitoring our own and others’ mental health. With everything we do as Panhellenic women, I realize that it can be easy to let our weeds overtake our garden. However, if we intentionally spend time tending to the things that hold us back and attacking our metaphorical weeds at their roots, we can learn to grow and bloom to the best of our ability, and I think that is beautiful.
Find more about the USC Counseling Center here