In helping people navigate transitions, I find the metaphor of a caterpillar moving into a chrysalis and becoming a butterfly to be very useful. Until it’s not.
Because humans have choice, and that makes all the difference.
We can choose what to bring with us from one stage to the next. Although we might feel like we’re turning to goo like a caterpillar does during the middle phase of its metamorphosis, unlike that caterpillar, our newly minted selves might look very much like our old selves in lots of ways. We can select aspects of our identity we’ll carry forward, even as some other identities get left behind.
We can also choose if we want to become a butterfly or not. We might prefer to transform into something else, which is (as far as I know!) an option the caterpillar doesn’t have. Taking responsibility for this level of choice can be daunting, but it also opens multiple pathways for the creative expression of who we are and are becoming.
And finally, we have some choice over the pace of our transition. We can stay a caterpillar. We can sit in the messy middle for a long time. We can even try being a butterfly and change our minds when that identity no longer suits us.
I love metaphors because they help us both when they fit and when they don’t!
P.S. If you find yourself on this journey of change and could use a travelling companion to bring some clarity to your choices or accelerate your progress through the gooey stage, do get in touch with me. And have a look at my newly minted menu of offerings — the True For You quiz might be a fun way to get started.
P.P.S. If you find metaphors intriguing but difficult, you might enjoy perusing I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like…