I came across something this morning that seemed so obviously simple and yet so mind blowingly brilliant that I’ve been unable to let it go.
So, do caterpillars know that they’re gonna be butterflies?
Or do they just build the cocoon and be like “WTF am I doing?”
I’ve tried to express this before, but in case you missed it: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING WITH MY LIFE! I know the things I want to do, but I don’t know how to get there from this place that I’m at. I spend a lot of time feeling like I’m spinning my wheels and getting nowhere that makes any sense, but I know I’m making some kind of progress because I’m not where I used to be. Am I a self-aware caterpillar who knows she’s destined for something but is clueless about what exactly that is? Am I building my cocoon out of hopes and dreams and faith that whatever is on the other side is going to be good? What if I really do have delusions of grandeur that I’m meant to be a butterfly; and while I’m doing all of this work and believing in hopes and dreams, I’m just going to arrive at my deathbed in time to realize that I missed the joys of being a caterpillar? I don’t think that last one is it, because I truly enjoy something in each and every day of my life. Even the worst days can teach us so much and if I didn’t believe in life’s next chapter, I wouldn’t really care enough to pay attention to the lessons in this chapter.
You deserve your dreams… (Who else could they possibly belong to more than you?)
Not everybody wants to be a writer, actor, singer, etc. Not everybody has the same dreams. Some people truly enjoy teaching French to high school kids. I’d rather have a root canal every day for the rest of my life. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. Let’s just say I have absolutely no interest in that. I wouldn’t mind LEARNING a little French, but teaching it? No thanks, I’m good. I might teach algebra; but though I love algebra, that isn’t a dream or a passion of mine. Our dreams and passions are ours for a reason. They are shaped by the places we’ve been and the things we’ve seen. They are also shaped by the places we haven’t been and the things we haven’t seen. No matter what shape they come in, they are that shape because they are ours.
I found myself asking the other day, “What does she have that I don’t?” Then I found myself thinking, “What an absolutely ridiculous thing to ask!” She has a lot of things that I don’t. Everybody in the world does. But guess what!?!?!? I have a lot of things she doesn’t have! Why don’t we ask that? I don’t want to be a writer like the “her” I was comparing myself to. I want to be a writer like me. So, by asking what she has that makes her, her; how does that help me find my way to being the me that I dream of being? It doesn’t. It only creates an image of a chasm between us. We have a lot of similarities too. We are both women. We both write. We both like chocolate and coffee. None of those things are what I want to build a career on. I was right to look for the differences, but I was looking at what I was lacking, and therefore, what I could blame my lack of success on. Perhaps my lack of success is that I only really figured out who I was and came to life about three years ago and am only just now getting my writing out there in the world? No, it’s gotta be because she has some charmed life that made success easier for her or something! But in reframing the question to, “What do I have that she doesn’t?” I created the opportunity to see something in me that makes me the writer I’m meant to be. It gives me the chance to see the shape of me and how that relates to the shape of my dreams in contrast to her and her dreams. I do not ask that in any way to put her down, only to find myself. We are so used to finding what is wrong with us that we forget to find what is right with us. And whatever we have, and whatever others have, those are the right things to have for each of us.
Maybe what I have that she doesn’t is this late blooming path through life? Maybe I’m going through things in the order and the timing that I am because there are people out there who are only really three years old at 37, too? Maybe my voice speaks to people who are still clueless little caterpillars; who don’t know what they are doing with their lives and typically feel like they are spinning their wheels; who still dare to hope and dream; or who, maybe, have forgotten how to hope and dream and they can see in me that it’s still possible, it’s never too late. Well, I still don’t know WTF we are doing, but let’s build our cocoons and hope for our dreams and see if, just maybe, we are butterflies.