The Resilient Weed: A Story of Growth and Perseverance

by Carly

My name is Carly and I’m currently looking for work in biology on the path to a full-time job in sustainability and building a better future. 

There is always that one weed that keeps growing back in your yard. You know what I’m talking about; the one that somehow grows through the cracks in your rock walkway or neighborhood sidewalk. No matter how many times you spray it, step on it, and pull it up as deep into the root as you can, it always grows back even bigger than before. It almost seems impossible that such a little weed could fight its way through so much, and still bloom a yellow flower. 

This year the resilient little weed and I had a lot in common. 

A year ago, I had a lot planned out, college graduation, job search, and landing my first job. I was so excited dreaming of moving away from where I grew up in the middle of nowhere where the population is primarily over the age of 45 far from the city. 

I didn’t get anything that I dreamed of this year, but it certainly didn’t stop me from growing. Despite no graduation ceremony, very few job opportunities, and being stuck in my twin bed in my childhood room, I’ve emerged stronger. 

I’m resilient. I’m grateful, and I’m learning to use my growth mindset to rethink the past year. 

I imagine the little dandelion weed tried to shoot straight up from its seed eventually hitting the stone and how much that feisty little weed is just like me. We’ve both got grit. For a while, I let the stone block my path and gave up. I convinced myself that the whole year was a waste and that the stone was never going to move. I was right about one thing: the stone didn’t move.

How I Learned to Grow Through Adversity

But, like the resilient little weed that bends its stem and learns to grow up and around the stone, I learned that everything is not a straight path. 

Even though it may take a little more effort, a little bit longer, a little more fight, and even more grit, I too could grow up and around the stone in my own way. I developed empathy for the weed: neither of us had an easy path forward but growing and blooming wasn’t impossible.

I sent my resume to everyone that I knew to be critiqued.  I spent more time looking at the Linkedin content more than I thought my eyes would allow, and I relentlessly chased after every possible opportunity. I started to pick up that moving around the stone was going to take more than just the knowledge that I had acquired in college. Growing was going to require more than my research, more than my labs, and more than my good grades. 

I had to learn soft skills, and I had to learn them fast if I was going to make any progress in the professional world. 

Eventually I secured two internships. Nope, not the dream jobs, exactly. But two more opportunities than I had before and two more chances to continue to grow and learn. I didn’t just get these internships because I had a degree in science. Even though I have the framed piece of paper that proves I have the hard knowledge and the hard skills, I’ve now come to realize those were just the roots. It takes soft skills like empathy, emotional intelligence, communication skills, developing a growth mindset, compassion and leadership to keep the plant growing up and up from those roots, relentless in its quest to move beyond the stone and to bloom.

This whole year was not a waste after all. This time of uncertainty was a challenge and I showed myself that I had enough grit to take it on and make the most of it. Not even the heaviest, largest stone can keep this little weed from bursting into the light! 

Pushing Through Obstacles: My Path to Building a Better Future

It’s easy to just see the blooming yellow flower and to forget about the incredible journey that the resilient little weed had to take before it bloomed. It had to push and push through and around heavy stones to get there. I know that I still have many more obstacles ahead, like finding a full-time job, applying to graduate school after my gap year, and growing through around and over whatever else these crazy times have to throw at me. But just like the resilient little weed that you see in your yard; nothing is going to stop me from growing and coming back stronger and bigger than before every time something tries to block me. 

My name is Carly Gerth and I’m seeking graduate work in biology on the path to a full-time job in sustainability and building a better future.

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