1. (of a person or animal) able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.
Resiliency is good, but not the default.
Most of us admire certain plants that could stand being ignored and neglected. We love that we could throw anything at them, overwatering, under-watering, never fertilize, rarely clean their leaves, and the list goes on. But as we admire that resiliency, we make a big mistake in assuming that resiliency is the default. While you can be grateful that your plant is able to handle anything, imagine how much happier it would be, how much fuller, and shinier and healthier it would be if it didn't have to fight for it's life all the time. The same goes for you. Of course you are resilient. You very likely have had to learn to be that way because of the struggles in your life, particularly BIPOC. And of course, being resilient is crucial at certain intervals but should not be a way of life. Imagine, if you had the right amount of water, and the right space to grow, and the right kind of light. Imagine if you didn't have to be resilient every day, every moment. You would actually be able to thrive. So just because the care guide on a plant says that it will tolerate low light, that doesn't mean it will thrive there. And isn't that what you want for yourself, to thrive? So, if you can, if you are able to give yourself a few moments to evaluate what you need in order to thrive, do that, because surviving and being resilient are necessary for short periods of time but are not a way of life.
When it comes to plants, one of the errors we make is to strive to find that perfect plant that can handle all of our carelessness and ignorance. I am not sure when that became the goal. Blogs write up things like "This plant is hard to kill because it needs almost no water or light" and "These plant varieties can withstand moderate neglect." Imagine believing that you can neglect something moderately and it will be happy. You might be a laid back person, but you wouldn't tell someone that they could almost completely neglect you and you'll be happy, right? You might tolerate it for a bit, but eventually, you'll be looking for the door.
The problem here is language and mindset. No plant wants to be neglected. Not even moderately so. They simply have different needs depending on where they are from, their history, their journey and experiences - just like you.
What does it mean for a plant to withstand moderate neglect? It means a few things:
1. She is more self-sufficient like a succulent that stores water in her leaves.
2. She will make it more obvious for you when she needs something, like a nerve plant.
3. She is less prone to bugs and disease like a snake plant.
A Snake Plant is considered resilient. Even though you should water her once her soil is totally dry, she will tolerate the dry soil for longer than other plants, like an Alocasia. She won't fall apart right away. She'll maintain. But if you do check more frequently, and water her when she's ready, she will grow more lush and beautiful. You can also put a low-light tolerant plant like the snake plant in a dark corner for a while, and she won't die, but she definitely will not grow.
My focus early on in my career was in media literacy. I believe strongly that it means something that blogs, and articles market plants to us based on how much we can neglect them. It says something about how we view ourselves as a society that we want to get the most while doing the least. That's why I believe we often kill the plants that are marketed to us as "easy" or "resilient." We conflate those two things with, indestructible. Every plant has a threshold, no matter how resilient. The fact is that one persons "easy" is another persons "difficult." So instead of looking for that one universal plant that can survive/thrive anywhere, under any condition no matter what, look for a plant that fits your lifestyle, goals and energy levels. I for one do not collect succulents because I am impatient with their slow growth. I have two, a Jade plant and a Burro tail but that's it. Ok, fine, I also have a cactus as well but that's all I can handle.
With my personality, I love plants that are like a medium level of spice. Philodendrons are resilient but I fuss over them, checking them and loving them so that they can grow long and gorgeous.
In general, I have always put too much on my plate, said yes to every opportunity, afraid that I would miss out on the next big thing and have rarely been willing to show my softer side. So I am now making an effort at recognizing that it is ok to not be resilient 24/7, to say no to things, in fact, it is often essential. Removing things from my plate that do not taste good, is my new favorite activity. With that, the expectation I have for myself of being strong and to withstand anything the world throws at me, is also under a microscope.
Being resilient is necessary at times and admirable but it is not a way to thrive. Nobody should have to tolerate difficult conditions everyday all day. The lesson for me is: Offer yourself reprieve from being resilient, when you can. Ask for what you want, demand the respect you deserve. You do not deserve to be neglected or ignored so if you are not being given the light you need to thrive, find another place that will love you how you want to be loved.