On a recent trip to Sedona, Arizona, I learned that the agave plant can grow for up to 25 years without blooming. In appearance it looks dead, and then over time it begins to show signs of life until one day beautiful white or yellow flowers appear. It blooms for a short period and then it dies. Its whole existence is set for that one brief period of glory. Hearing about the agave plant I was reminded of how our own lives can be seasonal and how sometimes it can seem as though our “dead” seasons can last for years. In these seasons it can feel as though we’ll never bloom or have anything to show for our efforts, but it’s during these times that it’s important to remember that while growth might not be visible, we are always preparing to bloom.
I was recently going through a very intense job search. My current project-based position was ending, and I needed a new full-time job. In the past when I’ve transitioned into a new role, I always had the cushion of ending one job with one already lined up. If I didn’t find a new job by the end of the year, I would find myself in a situation that I had never been in before. I was applying to many different roles, not just full-time but also part-time as well. And for a long time, I was only receiving rejection emails.
Each rejection was a painful reminder that I was getting very close to my deadline and had no leads. And then suddenly, I was getting interview requests from everywhere. Having up to 4 interviews a week. All the rejection emails felt as though I was in my dead season, but the truth is I was being prepared for the season that I now find myself in where I can pick and choose the position or positions that are right for me.
While I was applying and only getting rejected, I felt like the agave plant. Growing and surviving, but not having anything to show for my efforts. But when I did bloom, it was a beautiful sight to behold. And the beauty in our lives, is that once we start blooming, we don’t die after. Our leaves might fall, and the petals might die but we can always bloom again.
This is probably one of the reasons why I love living in a cold climate because you can see the seasons. Each fall as the trees shed their leaves, they remind us that there is beauty in each season and that while there are seasons where you can see the growth, there are seasons when the growth won’t be visible to anyone else; but you’re still growing. It might take longer than 3 months, it might take 3 decades but all your hard work will not be in vain.
In my own life, every season of preparation that I’ve been in seems very lonely and dead. Growth is often uncomfortable and sometimes not very pretty. But it’s necessary. As we head into winter, take some time to think about the ways in which you can grow that might not be pretty or comfortable and focus on doing that hard work while the world begins to slow down. This way when spring comes around, you’ll be ready to show the world all the beautiful growth that you did in the darkness.