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“Every one of us has in him a continent of undiscovered character. Blessed is he who acts the Columbus to his own soul.”
The analogy of the caterpillar scuffling along on the ground, unable to fly and seeming to come to its demise when actuality it’s putting all of its knowledge, life experience and energy into transforming itself into a beautiful butterfly is something that has always been a source of inspiration for me.
There is certain to be times in everyone’s life when it seems you are constantly being denied, thrown off course or forced to come to a halt by unexpected obstacles. This period can last for a few months, a few years and sometimes a couple of decades as it was in my case.
As is the case, hindsight is 20/20, and upon looking back I know exactly when I began to shrink the real me and project the me that I thought would be more well received by my peers, the opposite sex and even colleagues after graduating from college. As I write this, I know this is not an uncommon thing for women to do, and I’m sure men as well (although I can only speak to my own experience). However, thankfully, I always kept feeding that voice and passion inside me whenever I would spend time alone or with the few family and very close friends I trusted.
Gradually through lesson upon lesson, frustrations and many tears, I kept going toward something that didn’t seem plausible and most people couldn’t understand. Thankfully, I had my rock, my parents, and especially my mother who is my biggest cheerleader, and I began to sense as I entered my thirties that things were turning around, slowly my dreams were materializing and the most important part – I began to realize I was spending far too much time trying to fit in, when I was meant to stand out.
I share with you today the experience I had during the past twenty years, not to bring more frustration into your life, but instead to reassure you that it’s okay to be yourself. You too were indeed meant to shine, but like the butterfly we all must go through a period of being “a caterpillar” in order to learn the lessons that will be necessary when you approach the life you had once dreamed you would live.
Once you gather the courage to be your true self, the battles will still continue temporarily, and only temporarily if you continue to strive forward and remain true to who you are. Some people will laugh, some people will choose to walk away and some will feel threatened and act defensively, but these types of people and their responses serve as the arrows pointing you in the right direction because as you turn away from them and their negative energy, you turn toward something much better – toward people who do accept you for who you are. In the same breath, because of these types of experiences, the hope is that you will come to accept others for who they are because once you are comfortable and confident with the path you have chosen, knowing you are doing your best and giving your best to the world around you, you are less consumed with what others are doing. After all, there is only so much energy and time in the world, so why not spend it on the right priorities, making a difference and enjoying your life to the fullest?
So for nearly twenty years, I realize I had figuratively placed myself in a cocoon and magically, this summer I caught my youngest dog Norman becoming mesmerized with a beautiful yellow and black Monarch butterfly that would fly past my picture window at unexpected times during the day. The more often I would see it, I became mesmerized as well if only for a moment by its quiet unique beauty. To me, each time I saw it, it served as a reminder – as if the butterfly was sharing a silent message, “This was what the struggle was all about. Now you have the knowledge. Now you know how to fly on your own and reveal your gifts to the world without disguising yourself to fit in.”
So today and from this day forward, look back upon on the struggles, choose to wring all of the lessons you can out of them and then proceed to shine and stand out in the way only you can do.