Why a chrysalis?

Monarch butterfly emerging from a chrysalis

By Captain-tucker (Own work) {CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)} via Wikimedia Commons

Butterflies begin life as caterpillars. As they approach the time to take on the adult form of the butterfly, they form a hard shell around themselves to protect them during this transformation. This hard shell is known as a chrysalis. After the caterpillar enters the chrysalis, the caterpillar is broken down into raw material to be used in the formation of the butterfly that will emerge from the chrysalis when the transformation is complete. During this time in the chrysalis, however, it is no longer a caterpillar but is not yet a butterfly.

Most of us have times in our lives when we go through periods of intense transformation—times when we are no longer the people we were before the beginning of the transformation but not yet what we are becoming. When undergoing such a transformative period, it can be hard sometimes to even have a clear image of who one is because there is so much that is changing. Even our very self-definition and self-image become uncertain and difficult to define.

This experience sounds to me to be much like what the caterpillar must experience in the chrysalis in the process of becoming a butterfly. It is terribly uncertain, filled with change, and yet absolutely necessary to make the necessary conversion from a caterpillar to a butterfly. For me, viewing this time of change as my own journey through the chrysalis gives me hope that I too can emerge from this time of transformation and change as a more beautiful creature than I entered it with the enhanced freedom of the butterfly’s wings.