The other day, I asked a bunch of my students if they are caterpillars or butterflies. All of them raised their hands and claimed to be butterflies because they had all gone through tremendous pain and suffering and came out beautiful, open hearted beings.
And so I asked them if this is it then? Is this as good as it gets?
They paused and thought for moment. And almost everyone agreed that they still had tremendous growth ahead of them.
From my perspective as the spiritual philosopher and realizer of Badass Butterfly, I knew the dilemma I had put them in. We are constantly growing, expanding and giving birth to a better version of ourselves. After every emotional and physical challenge, there comes inner growth as lessons are learned. It seems that with each lesson comes transformation, but do we really change significantly from our daily challenges and the obstacles that we overcome?
When those daily challenges come up and we deal with them, we are growing slowly, but unless those obstacles and challenges make us take a stand for a radical improvement in our mind, body and lifestyle, they are NOT transformational. They are valid, important and helpful. But they aren’t transformational.
Transformation comes when we make a decision about the entirety of our entire being, and we are challenged by all the adversity to that decision, and we win the war. Not just a battle (I lost 30 pounds!) But THE WAR (I matter. I will never give my power to a cookie or a bully again.)
Getting your hair cut and deciding to wear make up is not transformational. Going to school to finish your degree is not transformational in and of itself. Asking for a raise at your job is not transformational. And neither is starting your own business transformational.
Transformation is the deep decision to completely finish with one thing as you completely embrace, own and accept nothing less than another. Transformation is the thing that happens when you decide that you will no longer play small and insignificant, and the haircut, make-up, degree and increased income are actions that have come as a natural result of that ultimate change.
When I was playing around with the idea of the Badass Butterfly, I thought that she was a woman who had undergone trauma, but came out with an open heart. What I realize, though, after studying this for the last 10 years, is that actually, undergoing trauma and coming through it is what caterpillars do.
Did you know that a caterpillar eats and eats and eats until it literally bursts through its skin? That’s powerful and uncomfortable, but it’s not transformation. That’s just good ol’ fashioned growth.
We want that and lots of it until we get the calling for something way bigger and way better.
At some point in the life of a caterpillar, it gets an internal call to change. At that point, the caterpillar stops eating and it ties its body to a tree where it hangs, hardens and becomes the tomb and womb of its on being.
Now, THAT’S transformation!
What most of us are doing for most of our lives is simply growing with all the experiences that life throws at us. But there comes a point (that is, if we are receptive, open and unwilling to deny our greatest potential) when growth is just not enough. There’s something that awakens inside us and it invites us to step into our greatest potential. That is the call not of a mere butterfly, but of a Badass Butterfly.
A Badass Butterfly is not just a woman who has overcome trauma. It is a woman who has transformed her entire outlook on her own life and the world around her. She is no longer bound by the three-dimensional perspective that she held as a caterpillar. SHE CAN’T. The caterpillar part of her has died and she CANNOT GO BACK. She can’t go back to being abused or abusive. She can’t go back to thinking small, making small decisions and accepting small outcomes. She can’t go back to overeating, binge drinking or giving all of her focus, power and energy to characters that other people have written on Hulu. She can’t because that aspect of herself has died and once she becomes a Badass Butterfly, there is no resurrecting the dead caterpillar self.
Does the Badass Butterfly still grow?
Nope. She evolves.
There’s no more lesson learning that expands this winged being. She is in her Divine Power and she’s now using that power to create in the world. That’s the job of all butterflies– animal and human. Create, evolve, create, evolve. Does the Badass Butterfly experience challenges? Oh, yes! But they are of a vastly different nature than the ones the caterpillar faced. Her challenges are now about big skies, big vistas and strong winds that challenge and test her wings. Totally different than the caterpillar’s! Caterpillar died and with it went those earthly burdens.
You’ll know when it’s time to retreat inward to become the Badass Butterfly. You’ll know because you’ll have the feeling that you can never return to what you were. You’ll have the feeling that you can never be able to go back to those old habits, thought patterns, beliefs and behaviors. You’ll notice that you have developed a real physical intolerance for your own bullshit, lies and self-defeat. You’ll never make a promise to yourself that you won’t keep. You’ll never sell yourself out to make someone else feel better.
The call to become a Badass Butterfly is going to come to you later in your life– some time after 45 years. You don’t want it to come earlier!!! Because when the call comes and you accept it, you can’t go back.
So please don’t force it or rush the call. Enjoy the luxury of being able to drink 3 glasses of the most delectable glasses of wine. Enjoy being able to fly off the handle at the dude who arrogantly walked away from his dog’s poop without even attempting to clean it up. Enjoy wallowing in victimhood, and letting survival mode be your excuse for not doing bigger, things. Enjoy being broke and unable to make better decisions for yourself based on lack. Because when the time comes and you get that call to transform, you’ll have to heed it and you’ll not be allowed any leniency for your excuses. Cocoon life is a bitch and you are gonna be missing the good ol’ days when you could be up all night watching Ozark.
Enjoy your remaining days as a caterpillar, my friend. And make the most of them. Dive deep into the extremes. Feel your feels. Rage against the machine. Be a little reckless and pay the price without hiding. Practice being vulnerable. And learn how to enjoy shame, disappointment and loss. The Biggest most Magnificent Badass Butterflies were outrageously badass caterpillars.