INTO BLOOM | Stepping into the Garden

Updated: Oct 10, 2021

The Journey to Emotional Intelligence Starts Here

Teary-eyed and upset, I sit on the edge of my bed, pushing my shoes off with my toes. I’ve had a day of nothing but frustration; a shower calls my name, lures me into the bathroom, and promises to wash away the hurt. It isn’t long before the steam is being puffed in and out of my nostrils, the smell of eucalyptus dancing behind my brain. The warm beads of water massage my scalp, entice my thoughts as they beat the distress from my mind. If only my problems washed away as easily, if only I could be: smarter, stronger, more confident, committed, skilled. On days like these I feel like I am in a never ending battle towards a me that will never exist; I feel tired, ready to accept that maybe this growth is not for me.

These feelings of fatigue and despair are not rare amongst most people today. The 2020 Deloitte Millennial Survey shows that 48% of Gen Zs and 44% of Millennials claim to be stressed all or most of the time. Well who could blame us? The state of the world seems to be at a constant decline and there has been an immense financial strain on people globally: the study shows that 64% of Gen Zs and 67% of Millennials claim to worry about their financial situation most of the time. We have the facts so what do we do with them? First, we must admit it is hard out here, but we have to remember that it’ll never get better, or seem to get better, if we don’t pick our heads up to see how it’s going. So, let’s start there.

My shower ends with the squeak of nozzles turning and the soft pat of a fluffy towel. The door to my bathroom is slowly swung open as the thick air pools through its crack. What was my bedroom has been replaced by a desolate, barren field; it’s dirt, dry and cracked, the trees that line it, sterile and gnarled. I call out, confused and afraid, getting a distant caw for a reply and take a step out of my bathroom into this new, frightening terrain. I walk up and down the row crops infested with weeds, dull and grey, and imagine what could be; the flowers that could line my steps, the fruits that could brush over my head. I envision the lush land that could pour out around me and I decide, once and for all, that it will be mine.

The thing about emotional intelligence and personal growth is that there are a million different ways to tackle it; with all of these options comes a variety of obstacles that threaten to take you out of the game, but the proper plan will help you overcome them. By breaking down this journey into three phases, we weaponize the power of interiority to blossom into our full potential: Plant, Water, Grow. That is, starting this journey towards emotional intelligence by planting ourselves in its foundational values, watering positive and enriching habits to maintain progress, and watching ourselves grow to reap the rewards.

According to Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, the authors of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, the four main skills that make up our EQ, or emotional intelligence, are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management (24); they also claim that “EQ is so critical to success that it accounts for 58% of performance in all job types” (20). With this, we look at our progress towards emotional intelligence, our three phases, in relation to these four skills to understand how we will grow into our new selves.

I have taken the Emotional Intelligence Assessment, available with a purchase of the text, and received the following scores:

Overall: 74

Self-awareness: 74

Self-management: 69

Social Awareness: 74

Relationship Management: 75

Although at the end of the day they are simply numbers, I find them useful to share so that my progress on this journey together can be documented and the four main skills can be understood through real-life application. They are not the strongest scores, but I am proud of them and excited to heal this garden together.

I wander out beyond the row crops to find a small shed sitting, quiet and alone. It threatens to fall over at the slightest blow of the breeze, it’s paint chipped and wooden door hanging from a single hinge. A peek inside reveals tools and an outfit to save me from the towel I was stranded in. My journey starts here, my battle to the new me has taken a sudden turn.


With an emphasis on human emotion, memory, and reliving experience, Nubia is a Chicago-based short, fiction writer. As a working-class, black woman their life experiences within hegemonic academia have informed their writing, pushing their interests towards the representation of the Other while capturing the varying perspectives of those deemed unworthy of empathy. Follow her on instagram @nubiapharah