Back east where I’m from, it’s a tradition for most families to take a run to the local farm in the fall to pick out Halloween pumpkins. As I recall, it was more than just shopping for a pumpkin. There was apple cider, fresh cider donuts, and then the main event, heading to the pumpkin field to pick out the best pumpkin you could find.
While most kids looked forward to the event, I always had mixed emotions. I wanted that perfect pumpkin, but what about the imperfect ones? The ones who weren’t round, the ones that had a bump or imperfection, and worst of all, the ones without stems– those were the saddest to me. Luckily my mom was understanding and usually allowed me to buy a “perfect” one and one of the sad, stemless ones that would otherwise have been left behind.
Flash forward into adulthood and I’ve realized that the need to care for, befriend, and otherwise try to “fix” stemless pumpkins doesn’t just apply to fruit (yes, pumpkins are fruit- Google it), but to people as well.
Now don’t get me wrong, most of my friends are perfectly wonderful, normal, people (stated just in case any are reading), but I have chronically attracted and held on to, more than a few stemless pumpkins over the years.
You know who I’m talking about. They’re the people who no one else wants to befriend because of their obvious flaws, such as bragging, lying, or other even more socially inappropriate behavior. However, you stick by them because you believe they need you and maybe, just maybe, they’ll change. When questioned why you spend time with them, you reply, “I know he (or she) is ____, but. . .” and then make excuses for your pumpkin.
On one hand, associating with a few stemless pumpkins can good for us. They teach us to be accepting of others, challenge our friendship and communication skills, and they can sometimes be very giving and grateful for our friendship.
On the other hand though, they can sometimes drag us down, drain our energy, and become a never-ending project that can dominate our lives.
So what can you do if you think you have Pumpkin Without Stem Syndrome?
Learn to identify a stemless pumpkin when you see one, so you can avoid a lot of heartache before taking it home.
I can’t really tell you how to identify the particular stemless pumpkin that you attract, because everyone attracts a different kind. My pumpkins have been people who:
– have low self-esteem, but compensate by achievement, either academic or business,
– constantly have to remind others of their accomplishments by bringing them up at every opportunity
– put others down to make themselves feel better,
– get angry, insecure, or frustrated, and then lash out, apologize, and do it again next week.
If you already have a stemless pumpkin in your life, consider limiting their access to you or ending the relationship.
For help with this, read my blog post, “Getting Rid of Dead Weight Once and For All.”
As I’ve become more aware of my own problem with stemless pumpkins, I’ve taken action to cure myself of the need to maintain toxic relationships and to accumulate people in my life who suck the life out of me, and quite frankly, cannot be fixed. Just a few weeks ago, I took a trip with my best friend to New England to view the fall foliage. At one of our stops was a pumpkin stand. Although I still felt the twinge of guilt leaving the stemless pumpkins behind, I left the stand with just one pumpkin whose stem was fully intact.
I think I may be cured.
Thanks to those who attended my SMART Goal Setting Workshop today for voting on this post for this week!