When It Is More Painful to Blossom Than to Remain a Bud

Someone recently sent me an e-mail with the following quote in the signature:

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

These words come from Anais Nin, a writer whose journals contain more than this one beautiful quote. I printed it out in 24-point type and taped it below my computer screen.

These days, I totally relate to Nin’s sentiment. I feel as if I’ve long ago begun to allow the bud that is my professional potential as a writer to begin the process of opening. I have given each petal permission individually, hesitantly, cautiously, to begin to loosen its grip on the bud. Now, the process can no longer be controlled. The petals release themselves from their tight cluster with abandon, spreading themselves wide, and the bud is quickly looking more like a bloom.

There’s an energy that has been released in the process that won’t allow me to go backwards. Oh, part of me would really like to go backwards, like when I rewind a movie I’ve recorded. It would feel much safer to be in that bud, but my inner self, my soul, won’t let me do that. It keeps pushing me forward, making me become what I am supposed to become. It persistently offers me new inspiration, more commitment, a higher level of desire. And now, indeed, it feels more painful to remain where I’ve been than to move towards where I’m going. I can do nothing but flower.

Now, will that flower be one seen by the world? I don’t know. Will it be seen by some? Very likely. Does it matter? Well, as a writer, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t matter to me at all. However, the main thing is that I fulfill my purpose – to help others through my writing and speaking.

And isn’t that all a flower does when it blooms? No one has to even see it blooming, admire it’s beauty or even smell it’s fragrance, and it still fulfills its purpose – to grow, to bud and to blossom.

Why then, when a flower fulfills its purpose seemingly effortlessly, is it so difficult for us humans to do so? Why has it felt like such a struggle to find an agent, to sell an article, to obtain a book contract, to increase the size of my mailing list, to enroll people in my classes? Why does my life, at every turn, seem to make it even more difficult with lack of time, financial issues, family responsibilities? And why do I balk, feeling not good enough, insecure, afraid. Oh…so many days I’d love to go back into that bloom. It would feel so much safer to be there now. But the bud never remains a bud…unless it dies I bud. I don’t want to die a bud.

I remember taking a human potential class where we talked about “unfolding.” The result of our fear of exposing ourselves and being who we truly are was described as “folding up” like a piece of paper. We were told to “unfold.” Little by little I’m unfolding, but that is a process that to some extent I can control.

The flower within me, however, is uncontrollable. I seem to have no choice at this point but to blossom – unless of course I allow the bud to whither and die on the stalk. I don’t think I can live with that…it would be too painful. So, like Nin, it seems the day has come when the risk of remaining tight inside the bud is more painful than the risk it will take to blossom.

13 thoughts on “When It Is More Painful to Blossom Than to Remain a Bud”

  1. I was googling the quote by Anais Nin– “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom,” and I came across your site. Beautiful entry. I find myself in a similar situation, though I am still desperately holding tightly and refusing to let myself bloom. Slowly, it is becoming more painful, and I have realized that I, too, do not wish to die as a bud. I hope you have found your way to bloom.

  2. Same here. I, too, was googling the quote by Anais Nin. I was very blessed to have also run across your site. I echo Anonymous’ post. Very beautiful piece you wrote on blooming with your writing. I especially liked your flower analogy. I think a flower’s destiny is to bloom regardless of how many people see it. A friend of mine gave me a similar quote about leaving safe harbor: “A ship in a harbor is safe . . . but that is not what ships are built for.” Time for me to set sail I think with my writing but I’ve never been much of a risk taker.

  3. very impressive writing. Actually, I have an examination on Anais Nin’s quote tomorrow. We should write deconstructive writing of “Risk” lolzzzz. i found your article very helpful.:) thanks a lot.

  4. What is the quote about? I have a really important paper due tomorrow and I have no idea what it means at the moment.

  5. Hi Nina,
    I just used this quote in an essay on Social Emotional Learning in the classroom that I finished last night. As a teacher, it actually becomes painful to continue to focus more on staying in step with the plan or agenda rather than listening and developing deeper bonds of relationship with our students. I searched for the quote this morning because my mentee told me that the quote came to her today and your page came up. Your description of how the blossom opens makes so much sense to me. Thank you.

  6. Hi Nina,
    Like those before me, I stumbled across your site when googling the quote by Anais Nin, and especially the title of your post. You carefully describe how the quote is relatable and suiting of a person ‘becoming who they are’. I’m left with a question though: in your title you mention how it can be more painful to bloom.. This is what pulled me to you post, but what is actually missing in your text: there is no way in which you describe that it can, in the end, actually be more painful to blossom. It would feel safer sometimes maybe, but you don’t really consider it an option.

    I want to put forward that, as your title suggests, it can sometimes indeed be more painful to blossom than to remain a bud, because we don’t always know whether the risks we take will eventually allow us to blossom. And beyond our control are influences that withhold us from blooming, even if we try. This can be painful and still result with us ‘in a bud’. How do we deal with that? I hoped to find an interpretation to (something similar to) that problem…

    That being said, I am happy you are finding your ways to blossom and hope you continue to do so.


    1. Hi,

      Very good point. Since this post is one of my most popular, maybe I will update it or write a new one. Keep an eye open!

      Thanks so much for your comment and feedback.

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