Do you ever wish that metamorphosis was a painless process?
I've noticed that growth and some measure of discomfort often coincide. Improving your health and physical fitness? Get ready for soreness. Are you in a committed relationship? Get ready for conflict, misunderstanding, and a mirror to see the most challenging parts of yourself. Then there are those times and seasons where you may not even know what's going on, but you know, deep down, things are changing. Lobsters shed their shell, snakes their skin, and caterpillars enter the cocoon.
I've been in one of those times. Since returning from my trip, I have felt different somehow. It's almost like I've been in a cocoon, or have wanted to be. While I consider myself a solid ambivert, I've felt way more prone to being "peopled out" than any time in recent memory. I've felt strangely on edge, moody, and vulnerable. I know these are symptoms of a deeper discomfort. I've been disoriented, coming back into the life I have and auditing each and every piece. I've found myself more and more grateful for close friends, and yet feeling lonelier somehow. I've been quieter, though not necessarily calmer. I've been wondering what the hell I'm doing, searching again for the meaning in what I do and wondering...
Where is all this going?
I know we all ask some version of this from time to time. We wonder at the future given our present. In fact, there are several questions within this one question:
- All this? We wonder--I wonder--about the current work. My art, my expression, am I doing the right thing? Am I focused on the right things?
- Is all this GOING? Is it working? Am I moving forward? Are we making progress, an impact, a positive difference in the lives of others?
- Implicitly, is this "growing?" I easily get preoccupied with the size of things and when things feel static.
- Where?? What's the destination? Do I know and if so, are we on course?
The answer to all of them has been the same, "I don't know."
Over the course of the past month, I've moved through all parts of this question and have also been with the other changes in my life and my being. I've felt the gaps in my expectation and reality, I've seen where and how I have done things to get a reaction rather than share the spark that's within my heart. I've seen just how distracted I can be, just how preoccupied with myself I can be, how divided and compartmentalized I can be. I have felt resentment, entitlement, and fierce anger more intensely than I would like. I have seen my compulsion for busyness and my desire for constant feedback and instant gratification. I've seen the dark side of my preoccupation with goals as well as the potential snares of not having them. I've been off of my rhythms and rituals and have been working to return to them. I have been with my shadow and have also felt like my light is dimmer.
I've been discouraged.
I think part of the challenge comes from not knowing, or maybe not believing, or not seeing how the dots are connecting. It comes back to my deep-seated inadequacy complex that I thought I had moved beyond and have been living with again. It's almost like the teenage me I thought was long gone has returned to my body to live with me. We're working on our relationship.
As I've been going back through my words, my workshops, my work, I've been seeing how all this has been speaking first and foremost to me. I see how I have needed not only the content and message I've said but to be the teacher, to be the wounded healer. To be the one who could encourage those who are where I am or have been. I believe that the universal things are also the most personal, and I've seen how saying what I deeply believe and know I need to hear has also been a source of inspiration and transformation for others. I have remembered that writing is a process for me personally as well as an invitation for others into their own process of growth.
Through it all, I feel like Spirit has been reiterating to me that it's not what I do, the real magic is in who I AM BEING. And yet the compulsion comes: DO MORE! The whisper is still right, though, sustained doing can only come from thriving BEING. For my goals, projects, and art, I'm reconnecting them to the inspiration and joy that birthed them in the first place. I'm zooming out to look at the big picture again, not just to sustain a hustle, but to DREAM. Whimsy, joy, these are not merely aspects of particular roles, these are grounding principles for my being. The shedding of goals has been all-encompassing, yet it does not mean I will not set goals, it's just done in a spirit of play. Stretch, grow, challenge, adventure... and all while creating space. Even if holding space also means embracing chaos within, so be it.
The art of integration continues in this space: Committing to ways of being that matter to me and letting go of what is unhelpful or unhealthy. It has been (and still is) uncomfortable, and I can work with that.
In and after deconstruction, there is the cocoon. Who knows what comes next...