Transition: The Cocoon of Life
Coming out of your shell and emerging as the new you
When we are young and naive as kids, we are caterpillars. We look out and can see everything around and above us, but we don’t know how to react or reach it. We dream and marvel at the big and exciting world around us from the ground because it’s so stimulating. As we get older, the forces of life make us retreat within ourselves similar to a caterpillar entering the cocoon. We grow, develop more analytical facilities, and look at life based on personal experiences, sometimes forgetting how to dream about the large and exciting world around us. Some start to ask the bigger questions of: Who am I? How do I want to contribute to the world outside of me? What truly brings me joy? As we prepare for the next stage, we can continue our growth quote unquote “normally” or we can get stuck during this transition.
Transition is often viewed as a time when we’re not at our destination. It can be looked down upon as someone who is “not there yet”. Outsiders can criticize or place unnecessary pressure to be at the end of whatever vision of life they have for you. Self-doubt and self-criticism can linger here, but transition can also be an incredibly humbling and growth-producing time. We start with seeds of ideas forming from our life experiences and slowly learn to bring them to life, similar to the way a caterpillar experiences transformation. Butterflies simply don’t exist out of thin air — they take time and patience to cultivate. This happens in their transitory phase of being in the cocoon. In this human period of metamorphosis, we transform our beliefs and judgments and experience self-discovery, pain, loss, growth, suffering, and understanding. Each person stays in this place for different periods of time, some never fully emerging from it or ever taking a hard look at who they are. It’s a very necessary phase to be in because it’s where we learn to emerge as our true selves.
The chrysalis is an outer protective casing that engulfs the transforming caterpillar. In our experience, I believe one of two things occur here during the chrysalis state that can result in feeling stuck. We either become comfortable, safe, and warm in this place as we see the same 360 degree views, or we experience suffering and feel trapped in it, allowing the darkness to seep through every pore of our being. Some caterpillars never make it out of the chrysalis in the same way some people can’t outgrow their suffering,
which leads to addiction, pain, health issues, etc. When the cocoon is a place where our self-destructive tendencies overtake us, we can’t see the light that exists on the outside. Envisioning oneself in the light as a butterfly soaring through flowers, trees, clouds, and true beauty of life seems impossible. We simply exist in this place and let it consume us. If we wait too long, we’ll never evolve into the next phase as we should and can only consciously perceive our lives the way they are now. Making the choice to move beyond our suffering to experience change changes our energy and we begin to evolve. It’s a slow process, but when we realize we are building wings, we see that we’re meant to learn how to fly. Our wings start to grow, and slowly but surely we are being drawn to a new future and can start to see the endless possibilities that exist for us on the other side.
When the cocoon is a warm and comforting place where we stop growing and expanding, we become numb to the world around us. We can’t see life beyond what it is now or the whole world of existence and possibility that lives outside the cocoon. Looming overhead are potential threats and it is scary to face them so we stay where it’s safe. It can be boring, lethargic, and mundane here. We look out in every direction and it all looks the same. Again, some people never grow out of this phase, but when we begin ask, Is there more? The answer is always yes. This begins the evolution process, but may not happen fast. This phase may feel lonely and that no one understands who or what you want to be. You have big dreams but may not feel supported. This is the magic. You are breaking away from convention and creating your own unique vision of life that when you are ready, allows others to see who you really are. For anyone who feels like they are in this place, don’t be discouraged. When you take the steps to evaluate who you are and what you want, you’ll outgrow the old shell of who you were and start to attract new people and experiences that will enhance this resurgence of you. The numbness recedes and the aliveness returns because steps are taken towards conditions that generate joy.
Hiding in the cocoon out of fear doesn’t serve us, but no one can force you out. You have to be ready and allow yourself to be seen. I hid myself away for years because I was afraid of people not liking the true me. I did my best to not allow others to know me by deflecting and suppressing my true personality and desires. I always focused on others and didn’t offer up information for others to truly see me. It was reflected in my life through depression and I became angry that I was overlooked. I realized the energy I was projecting screamed, “Don’t pay attention to me!” I really was afraid of people seeing past this facade and wanted so badly to fit in and feel normal. When I finally started to explore my true aspirations and joys, I began to conceptualize a new life for myself. As soon as I started sharing my real desires and goals, it felt so freeing. While I received
questions and criticism, it didn’t matter anymore. I was finally moving towards a life I wanted and it felt so good to disentangle from the web I wove for others. Poking my head outside of my own cocoon allowed me to start feeling seen by others and allow the beauty and magic to begin unfolding. The confidence that builds from being accepted for who we are allows us to continue moving up and out of the cocoon until we are ourselves fully and completely. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks because you are just happy being you. You become a magnet to new people and experiences that further launch your wings to fly.
We also have this societal pressure to have things figured out. We explain ourselves away as to what our current job and situation is, when most of the time we are striving for something else. We spend so much time and energy focused on our current situation instead of focusing on what we actually want. We have the ability to judge ourselves so fiercely and often become self-conscious that we should be doing more. This keeps us stuck inside the cocoon. We feel trapped within the walls of convention when deep inside our souls are calling out for something else. Pay attention to that greater calling and pick up the damn phone. We’re not meant to live a life staying where we’re at. We are supposed to shed the layers of us that no longer serve us. We outgrow past molds of who we thought we were and who others thought we should be. This molting of sorts allows us to step into our true selves. Here, we become unafraid of what lies outside of the warm, comfortable cocoon that we’re in. We prepare ourselves for more, and there is always more to be had.
Who would have thought a caterpillar is capable of transforming into such a beautiful creature? Or that a tadpole is capable of becoming a frog? In this same way, don’t let others doubt your goals. They can’t see your butterfly on the other side. People may see you as a caterpillar, but only you know your true potential. Similarly, the hermit crab outgrows its shell and finds a new one that fits its growing body. It becomes, larger, stronger, and more resistant to outside forces. The salamander loses its tail and regrows a new one. Growth and regeneration have always been part of nature and we are no different. We grow and and let go of old beliefs and judgments and regenerate the way we look at ourselves and the world around us. We need transformation, change, and experiences that lead our transition or propel us forward. We have to look at the depths of who we really are as a soul being and discover our true essence. The cocoon is the place where we wake up from who we think we need to project to the world before we let ourselves truly be seen. Once we are ready to be seen, we emerge more beautiful and radiant than we could imagine. When we get to this state, people take notice because they didn’t see it either. We ultimately become a new version of ourselves, one that others may not recognize. This is exactly as it should be as we continue to grow and change. We were all meant to leave our dark and hollow cocoons behind to emerge in the light as our true, joyful, and authentic selves.