Written by Katlego Kganyago. EXIT

“Validation kills authenticity.” – Kathy LaDonna

The unending and complex process of discovering self to become the best version of you is a terrifying yet fulfilling experience. Our revered contributor Simply Duma, reflects that becoming the best version of self requires a series of circular self-introspections, shadow work and awareness of surroundings (including social circles/ friends/ networks). I admire how Simply Duma and many life coaches I look up to describe the process of becoming the best version of self, through the metaphor of a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. 

During the early days of winter, I came across plenty of furry caterpillars in my yard. It was a strange sight but being the new-age spiritualist that I am, I Googled the meaning of seeing furry caterpillars.  I believe that nothing is a coincidence. One of the popular astrology/ shamanic sites describes seeing the furry caterpillar as a guide from one’s ancestors that they are cheering for you. Another site mentioned that seeing furry caterpillars is a sign that an individual is experiencing a transformational change – I resonated with that. The site went on to say that the furry caterpillar alludes that a greater positive and transformative change is on the horizon, as the caterpillar is about to go into the cocooning phase.

As I reflect on this, the cocooning phase is the messiest and difficult part of becoming self because it is the beginning of shadow work according to psychologist Scott Jeffrey: “The shadow is the dark side of our personality because it consists chiefly of primitive, negative human emotions and impulses like rage, envy, greed, selfishness, desire, and the striving for power.” Jeffrey highlights again: “Exploring your shadow can lead to greater authenticity, creativity, energy, and personal awakening. This introspective process is essential for reaching mature adulthood.” Back to the central metaphor, immersing self into shadow work allows an individual to develop into a cocooned butterfly. 

The next process is breaking free from the cocoon and learning to fly as the authentic self (the butterfly soaring with its bright colours). The process of breaking free from the cocoon requires inner-strength, a whole lot of agility (outer-strength) and conviction (setting intentions with confidence). It may look easy from text, but going through this phase defines most of the adulthood stage, as it determines whether we will live fulfilled authentically or just skate through life – which can take a toll on some people who are overwhelmed by this rite of passage. The moment we let go of “Abantu Bazothini?” (a paralysis that my life coach Michelle Mount, prefers to call Imposter Syndrome), is the beginning of living our best authentic lives. It takes courage to live life according to your terms because you have disposed of people, ideas and beliefs that tell you that you do not deserve to be. 

In closing, I am reminded of Zoë Modiga’s song Black Butterfly where she alludes to the sacred and divine process of flying high, because you have answered the call to be the authentic you: 

“Flying low, yet through the sky, black butterfly 

I’m glad your wings know what to do

Fly so high, black butterfly”

The song is very soothing and you can feel Zoë’s voice travelling between higher dimensions and physical realms which affirms that being the authentic you is very rewarding as it enhances nirvana (spiritual bliss), and allows everyone who is in your presence to live their best lives. That incredible butterfly sung about is only there for a while until it lays its eggs again (paving the path for the next generation) to complete the circle of life. As I am writing this, I am also learning to fly freely like that wonderful insect that was once a caterpillar to a beautiful and enchanting creature with wings I wish to have one day.

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