Have you ever felt like you've been 'waiting on the next phase' FOREVER!!! I sure as hell have. Last year around this time I wrote a blog titled The Holding Pattern. I shared some epiphanies I had after not getting accepted into Ph.D. programs and actually needing to take my own advice. I won't rehash those lessons but I did re-read my own words in preparation for today's post. Since May of 2021, I've continued to be in a holding pattern, or what I have evolved into calling my cocooning phase of life.
We all know the reference: caterpillar goes into its cocoon and emerges into this beautiful butterfly. But what is NEVER talked about is what the fuck happens to the caterpillar INSIDE the cocoon!! Yall...The caterpillar literally turns into soup. It disintegrates, melts...you get the picture. I'm not a scientist so I'm not going to pretend to use all the big words but here is an article I found to describe the process. I started thinking deeper about this after my dad and I spoke with Nkem Ndefo on the last episode of season two of Conversating w/Pops'nAde, where she mentions the chrysalis and the process in relation to the work she does with resiliency.
After speaking with her I thought about this transition/holding pattern I've been in since November 2020 when I relocated to the serene island of Martha's Vineyard. This move was always just a stopover, or a rest stop for the next part of my journey, whatever it may be. What I thought was going to be a quick pit stop has now turned into a year and a half full of growth, disappointments, insights and so much more. Now, more than ever I understand the cocooning process a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly and how important it is not to rush the process.
Back in February, I left the island for a quick trip to Atlanta to see some friends and celebrate my Godson's 1st birthday. In order to leave this island I had to drive my car to my job, park, then walk to the ferry-luggage in tow (and yall I don't pack light), take the ferry to the mainland, then a bus to Boston Logan airport to catch my flight. Upon returning I have to do it all over again. For a 3-hour flight to Atlanta, I had to travel 12 hours door to door.
The day I returned the wind was fierce, the chill off the water was extra cold, and the cute little hat I had on for travel was not cutting it. It was dark after getting off the ferry and there was nothing I could do to keep my luggage from toppling over multiple times as I walked the 10 mins to my car. I was tired, hangry, and frustrated to say the least. After my luggage fell for the 10th time before getting to the driveway of my job I stopped. Inhaled and looked up. For the first time that day, I just stopped and looked upward. I let the clear night sky penetrate my eyes and I saw EVERY star! It was beautiful and to be a little cliché it was illuminating.
Those stars shined a clear light on every emotion I was feeling that night and the whole year since I got my final no into Ph.D. programs. Since May of 2021, I made some major pivots in my career and personal choices. I shifted my focus from obtaining my Doctorate to an MFA in Creative Nonfiction. I got support from mentors, and writing teachers I studied under and felt more aligned with my purpose. I accepted the truth that I'm a writer and what I could and will do as an author. I applied to Multiple MFA programs and by January 2022 I was settled in knowing what I knew was next for me. It was the clearest I felt in a long time. From January to March 2022 I was deep in the cocoon. I could feel it in my bones that something was coming, my cocoon phase was almost over and I was elated for what was coming.
That night looking up at the stars I realized I was still being formed and even though I may have been ready to bust loose and fly, I needed more time. This island was providing that time for me. It has been my literal cocoon. I was still waiting to hear from three more schools all in different areas across the country. I could not rush the admission process, just like I couldn't rush getting back to my car with luggage rolling over gravel. It's not possible and it makes no sense. I had to continue to sit still and wait to be formed.
Well, part of the wait is over. MFA program decisions have been made and once again I was not granted admission into a program. But this is not where the story ends. The night I looked up at those stars was March 2nd, 2022, and on April 11, 2022, I got the final news regarding my last two school applications. These last two and a half weeks have been what I'm defining as the last phase of my dissolve.
The caterpillar has to completely dissolve and turn into a soup-like texture for the foundation of the butterfly to be formed leaving only imaginal discs, think of them like your skeleton. These discs use the soup to create their wings, eyes, antenna, etc. The process is slow, steady, and intentional. I can't speak for the caterpillar, but I can only imagine melting all your particles into a nutrient-rich soup so the rest of you can feed off of it and create a completely new form, yea uncomfortable to say the least.
So here I am, in the last phase of getting my wings, new body, mind, and nervous system developed. Not completely soup, not completely formed but conscious enough to know I'm almost there, I just have to be patient. If I rush the process I won't be able to fly and let me tell you FLY is what I'm ready to do. :)
So, the next time you feel the urge to rush whatever 'wait/holding pattern/cocoon' you are in. Remember, most of the real work/healing/transformation happens right there. IN THE MIDST OF IT. If you want to grow, learn yourself, develop your skills and gather more tools for your well-being. The cocoon is the place to be, and from what I can tell, we'll know when it's time to come out just like the butterfly does.
Be encouraged and Be inspired.
Affirmation Images are from the IAm app. Download it for free and enjoy daily positive affirmations. Nope, I'm not being paid to say that either. I just like the app.