Officially In My Late Twenties
A few thoughts on caterpillars and turning 26
I watched a really graphic video this morning on Facebook about how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly (spoiler: it’s disgusting). I don’t often go on Facebook, and I definitely don’t usually stop for insect videos, but I guess I was in a good mood — probably because it’s my birthday. So I watched this minute-and-a-half long video, and instead of moving on, I ended up watching it again. And again. I was hooked, and I slowly realized that it was because I was having a revelation:
I can relate to the caterpillar.
She starts out as a larvae whose sole mission is to eat a gluttonous amount of food until she’s 100x her original size. Next, she wiggles around under her skin until it splits open and falls off, effectively shedding her former self. Her new self leaves her vulnerable because her skin is now raw and exposed, but eventually, it begins to harden. Once her outer layer is strong enough, she literally digests herself (this is where it gets hella strange) and then rebuilds herself again. Once the rebuilding is complete, she busts out of her skin for a second time, but now, the result is a fierce and powerful— but still kinda gross because it’s an insect and this process is weird — butterfly.
I’m sorry but is this not the most perfect analogy for life? We all start somewhere. None of us know what we’re doing so we focus on getting stronger. Evolving. Progressing. [Insert other 2017 buzz words for success.]
Sometimes we get to where we want to go, but it never comes without pain and hard work. The only difference I see between us and caterpillars — aside from the obvious differences — is that they only have to go through this cycle once. As humans, we go through it over and over again (did anyone else just start singing Nelly?). For example, 18 year old Andrea is COMPLETELY different than 26 year old Andrea.
They don’t even know each other.
Or let’s break it down even further— let’s just look at my life over the last year. I turned 25 and went through an admittedly cliche quarter life identity crisis. I felt completely lost and didn’t know who I was or what I wanted to do. I had no choice but to do the butterfly cycle. I went through a long year of shedding parts of my old self, deconstructing who I was, and then building myself back up again. I wiggled uncomfortably in my own skin, and wrestled with both my identity and the core of who I am.
I also took some serious risks.
I moved to a new city without a job or a place to live. I started and ended a relationship. I slowly released the hand holding my old dreams so I could grab on to new ones (without knowing what they were yet).
My skin was raw.
But it grew stronger.
Now, a year later, I’m 100x more sure of myself and who I am. I don’t just have a job and a place to live — I have a home. I have a list of dreams and goals for the future, and I’m no longer scared of going after them because risk taking has become my normal.
I hope we’re all taking time to self-reflect regularly, but at the very least, spend some time reflecting on your birthday. Look at how you’ve grown and changed as a person over the last year. Examine the times that you’re proud of, and the ones you wish you could change.
Most importantly: don’t avoid the painful moments because they hurt. Instead, let them play the lead role in your evolution.
Every time October 21st comes around, I think to myself, “Wow, that was the best and worst year of my life.” So either I have problems, or I’m just very self-aware (hoping it’s the second one). Regardless of the ups and downs, I’m grateful for another year of life. I’m already looking forward to my next butterfly cycle, because even though it’s tough, it’s well worth it.
This concludes my birthday thoughts for the year, however I feel I should mention that I’m automatically wise and mature now that I’m in my late twenties, so you can start taking my advice forever.
*still humming Over and Over Again