Blog / 2021 / Stupid Like a Geranium

March 12, 2021

[video transcript]

As proof of my veteran status in the war of “am I stupid?” I present to you this journal entry from soon after I got my BA as well as this early vlog about self-confidence, both of which I find a little bit stupid now—further proof of just how qualified I am in this matter!

The original flower painting is for sale for $100 plus shipping—see all currently available artworks. There are prints and pretty things with this image in my Redbubble shop.

pink geranium (pelargonium) floral art by Jersey artist Gwenn Seemel
Gwenn Seemel
acrylic, colored pencil, and marker on paper
8 x 6 inches

Did you know that horseshoe geraniums like this one used to symbolize stupidity? When I found that out, I admit I was a bit offended on behalf of these flowers. Apparently the meaning comes from a popular 19th century book called The Language of Flowers by Charlotte Latour. In it, the author reports that the famous Madame de Staël saw the flower as a “sottise,” comparing it with a Swiss officer of all things, by saying:

“It pleases the eye; but when you press it even lightly, it emits an unpleasant smell.” *

Well, I happen to love the green and growing smell of geraniums, and I think it’s stupid to associate a flower with stupidity!

So much so, that discovering this super judgey symbolism actually took me down a whole twisted path with my own relationship to the idea of stupidity. Specifically, the way I too often tell myself that I’m stupid.

I definitely do it less now. I’ve really worked to eradicate this particular form of self-talk. Every time the thought “I’m stupid” pops into my head, I stop myself from repeating the phrase, instead chanting “I’m fine, everything is fine.”

Now, when “stupid” comes to my mind in reference to me, my goal is to think “stupid like a geranium,” which is to say not stupid at all. Geraniums are only associated with stupidity because some self-important so-and-so quipped her mightiest back when. It has nothing to do with the flowers at all, which are beloved by many.

And it’s the same for me, only I’m the self-important so-and-so who’s been insulting myself all these years, and it’s got nothing at all to do with who I actually am. Because I am fine and I am loved. I’m stupid like a geranium!

This video is made with love and microdonations from my community!

* Quoted from Kasia Boddy’s book Geranium (2013) in the chapter ‘The Geranium in the Window.’

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