Baby Steps. I always seem to find myself from ground zero everywhere I go. People always say it’s a good thing. Marissa Meyers was quoted saying:
“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.” But it doesn’t really feel good when you’re the one being pushed against the wall, does it?
There is something depressing about being at the bottom and wanting to get to the top without knowing how.
When I was in highschool, I read a book called Hope for the Flowers. I didn’t even remember the moral of the story until I read it again at 23. It’s about caterpillars and butterflies. To cut the story short it’s about people trying to get ahead of each other, stepping on each other’s toes and realizing they weren’t happy when they finally reached the ”top”.
There was actually nothing at the top but people (or caterpillars!) didn’t tell you anything because they’ve invested so much time and work on getting there. Obviously, nobody got to be a butterfly doing that one thing. So this yellow caterpillar stopped trying to climb and did some soul searching until she figured out how to become a butterfly. Roll up in a cocoon, hibernate, grow? boom! Pretty wings (and then you die).
Now I’m wondering, how do I get to be a butterfly without stepping on other caterpillars? Who’s going to show me that I was made to roll in a cocoon. I mean, what cocoon am I supposed to roll up into? How do I know I’m doing it right?
This piece was written two years ago when I moved back to Vancouver after 8 months of studying Film in the Philippines. I was at a low point in my life because I didn’t know what I wanted to do but needed to find employment in a very competitive industry. I stopped applying to jobs because 1) it became more depressing 2) I was losing confidence in my skills as a multimedia person 3) some internships are dead ends.
I found jobs working as a shop girl and as an office assistant. They weren’t the ideal jobs you’d associate with a Multimedia graduate living in Vancouver. I was supposed to be in one of those start-up tech companies, working at a cool loft office in dowtown with craft-beer chugging workmates. Instead, I was underemployed pushing papers and folding clothes. But my jobs helped me get back on my feet, I made new friends, made deep, sincere connections, had fun, and learned to enjoy the present. I learned not to let my identity and confidence rely on titles. During the span of working odd jobs I also realized what I wanted to pursue. The past two years has been the “climbing down” part of my caterpillar life, then the wandering on the ground not knowing what to do.
This year I can say for sure that I am finally going into my cocoon. I’ve decided to go back to film school. It’s going to be tough. I’m going to have to give up a lot of things – the comfort of living in the first world, friends, earning “easy” money. Entering the cocoon is making me
sh*t scared. What’s going to happen? What if one day I wake up and no longer find the joy in what I’m doing? What if I go hungry? What if I lose everything?
But then I remember that time in my life when all that actually happened (lost the job, went broke, got dumped, gained weight, zero confidence- basically failed at life by society’s standards) but slowly I was able to build myself up again. So when the going gets tough, I trust that I will find those little pockets of extra strength I didn’t know was inside of me.
Yellow: And if I decide to become a butterfly, what do I do?
Grey: Watch me, I’m making a cocoon. It looks like I’m hiding, I know, but a cocoon is no escape.
It’s an in-between house where the change takes place. It’s a big step since you can never return to caterpillar life.
During the change, it will seem to you or to anyone who might peek that nothing is happening– but the butterfly is already becoming. IT JUST TAKES TIME! And there’s something else! Once you are a butterfly, you can really love– the kind of love that makes new life. It’s better than all the hugging caterpillars can do.
Of course there is no formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.