Advice from a Caterpillar
Today’s post takes its title from Chapter 5 of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. You’ve probably read it, or seen a film version. Stick with me, because really, it’s all about change. About transformation. And, frankly, about not really knowing who we are:
I mean . . . Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt like Alice. And the way I see it, that includes
feeling like you’ve been jerked around by outside circumstances, or have been pulled in multiple directions
feeling like you’ve lost touch with who you really are and are unsure about who you are
feeling as if you’ve changed, but you can’t get enough perspective to figure out how, or if you like the changes
feeling as if people are constantly asking you to explain yourself
feeling uncertain about what to do next
Rather than debating the wisdom of accepting advice (and criticism) from strange caterpillars,— and seriously, that could be a topic for another day,—I want to talk a bit about how relatable Alice’s inability to describe herself is.
I can’t speak for you, but I can tell you that when I was a younger girl, I felt pretty certain that I knew who I was. That slowly got packed away bit by bit when it didn’t fit other people’s expectations: parents, teachers, friends, peers, co-workers and bosses, even spouses and children. All the weight we carry that belongs to other people’s expectations and demands is enough to bury who we started as.
And then there are the other things in life, like the roles we play. I was a music major in college, worked in retail for a year and then in the metal industry for another four. Then I went to law school, got pregnant and married, became a lawyer, had a miscarriage then a second baby, got divorced, eventually remarried, then became disabled. After several years, during which my ex-husband got cancer (and recovered), I got divorced again, then met my sweetheart. After a couple years, we decided to move in together, which required me to downsize. A lot. And in 2016, we got married at township hall. The next year, I started my art business (Kelly Ramsdell: Art & Words). Plus there have been some family care-taking gigs thrown in for good measure. So let’s add all those jobs and labels, too. Oh—and we should chuck in “middle-aged” and “post-menopausal”, because why not?
My quick summary only hits “highlights”, and I’m pretty positive you can rattle off something similar for yourself. Even if all the things on your list are good things (and I would love that to be the case), Is it any wonder we end up feeling a bit like Alice, uncertain who we are anymore?
No. It’s 100% understandable. With all the changes, all the roles, all the expectations that we juggle, it’s easy to become unsure and to lose ourselves.
Please know that we see you, and that you aren’t alone. If you don’t have it all together yet (or you had it together but then forgot where you put it), we’re here to help. We are ALL about permission to make new choices, try new things, and redefine yourself in a way that you love. Because actually, you can.