Transitions... Advice from a Caterpillar

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Who are YOU?" said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, "I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then."...

The Caterpillar was the first to speak.  "What size do you want to be?" it asked.
"Oh, I'm not particular as to size," Alice hastily replied; "only one doesn't like changing so often, you know."
"I DON'T know" said the Caterpillar.
Alice said nothing: she had never been so much contradicted in her life before, and she felt that she was losing her temper.
-  Chapter V in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll was onto something in this exchange between Alice and the Caterpillar.   Alice was chasing a white rabbit when she fell into the hole and stumbled into a foreign land.  She has shrunk to a smaller size and  almost drowned in her own tears.   She just listened to a mouse deliver a dry lecture, watched animals engage in a Caucus-Race, where everyone runs in a circle with no clear winner, and now she meets a blue Caterpillar sitting on a mushroom smoking a hookah.

Their interaction begins when the Caterpillar asks " Who are YOU?" which leads to Alice's admission that she currently does not know who she is.  Alice is having an identity crisis!

Hands up if you haven't felt like Alice at one time or the other.  I have been exploring "Who am I?" for the past year.  In some ways, I have had my own identity crisis.  I've been in that place where life decides to switch things on you without notice.  Better yet, you have hoped and prayed for something to change but the process feels as though you have fallen into a dark abyss and you are lost.  Everything feels unfamiliar  and you are in a perpetual state of confusion, frustration, hope, relief, and grief all at once.

These feelings of being suspended in purgatory may come as a result of the loss of a job, loved one, or relationship.  It may come because you resist or oppose change in your life.  If you are nodding your head in agreement, rest assured that all is well.  You are merely in transition.  

According to William Bridges in his book, Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes, life is one big transition  with an "ending-then-beginning pattern" in continuous play as each person grows and changes.  Transition is an internal process, a paradigm shift that occurs in the mind as one goes through change.  To be clear, transition is not change.  It happens much slower and subtly than change does, but ultimately, being in transition leads to change.  Just like Alice, you live experiences and along the way, your view through the looking glass of life makes you question "Who am I now?", "Why/What is this happening?", " Why me?", " Why now?"

The most important thing to remember when in transition is that the neutral zone between the end and new beginning stages is the most disorienting.  However, it can be where your greatest moments of creativity, innovation, and renewal occur.  You may feel the need to withdraw, be alone, or feel empty.  Do not apologize or feel defensive, for the neutral zone is meant "to be a moratorium from the conventional activity of your everyday existence."  In embracing this period, you are welcomed with an extraordinary kind of awareness of who you are.  You start to see and think differently, old things are left behind to make room for the new.  You are able to answer the Caterpillar's  "What size do you want to be?" question in the neutral zone. 

In the end, accept being in transition.  It will help soothe the bumps that you will encounter along the way toward change.! All rights reserved © Blog Milk - Powered by Blogger