The Aches and Pains of Transformation

I wonder how it feels to be a caterpillar transforming in its chrysalis? Does it feel pain? Does it feel fear? Does it know it’s going to become a butterfly in the end? Did it ever see itself as beautiful before, when it was just a caterpillar? Has any caterpillar ever chosen death over transformation? Or is a caterpillar bound by the laws of nature to accept its fate?

I was a butterfly once, or at least I played one when, in second grade, I was assigned the role of “butterfly” in our school play “Goin’ Buggy.” It was a silent role but when the chorus sang “pretty little butterfly come fly away with me,” myself and, I think, three other girls spread our wings (which were made by a parent, I think) and pretended to fly to the back of the room.

I loved to sing back then and I thought I was kind of good at it too, although, in listening to cassette recordings from those days, I clearly didn’t have the gift I thought I did. But I kept practicing. I kept trying to memorize the songs I enjoyed listening to (mostly songs from musicals because, let’s face it, at that age my musical tastes where inherited from my mom). From ages 9 to 19, my voice improved enough to convince other people that I could, in fact, sing. I even had the luxury of taking private voice lessons and performing solos at church and school and retirement communities. People told me I was good, not just friends and family but complete strangers too. After while, I came to believe them and to think singing was my only true gift. Why else was it easier for me to become someone else through songs rather than words alone?

As a freshman in college, I began as a vocal performance major, but it only lasted a semester. Being around so many people whose voices were far superior to mine had a sobering effect. I was left with no choice: I had to find a new calling and, eventually, I did.

I’ve always been hyper self-aware and self-conscious in any social setting. Even now I carefully study the people around me and measure myself up to them. Yes, counselors have warned of the danger in making comparisons, but I can’t seem to give it up completely. In fact, that’s one reason I still feel shame even though most of the time no one criticized me at all. But in the rare times when someone does criticize me for something that makes me look or seem weird, I pay attention and made a concerted effort to change. It’s a thought-process I carried to the extreme when I studied abroad in France when I made it very clear that I wasn’t just in France to learn French. I was in France to become French.

You’ll learn how that all played out when you read my memoir someday but for now, let’s bring you up to date.

I turned 38 last week and, as my peers like to say, “shit just got real.” I’m freakin’ old! (or so my 18-year-old self would’ve said) and you know what? Very little has changed for me since I started this blog a little over 3 years ago. Oh, the lost ambition! the failure! the tears! How the hell did I end up on a one-way train to “Loserville”?

No matter. Now’s not the time for psychoanalysis. No, we’ll save that for other blogs. Rather now is the time to change and I’m gonna take a bold step and tell you that I’m going to be challenging myself in both work and fitness until it becomes habit forming and I want you to be a part of it.

This is a picture I took back in 2016. I basically look exactly the same today. In other words, I’ve tried stuff like this before and failed miserably but this time has to be different. It just has to. So I’m doing all the things my friends and internet research has instructed me. I’m goal-setting, scheduling, journaling, list-making, and having friends hold me accountable. Last but not least, I’m blogging about it once a week starting today. Stay tuned.