In a larva mound, a curious caterpillar noticed some of the others in the process of building a cocoon of sorts. The purpose for such a commitment extended past any terrestrial understanding.
The caterpillar became engrossed in the daily activities that needed to be completed. Things went on without time to worry about what could be. Intentions were grounded in what could be seen and reached tangibly.
The caterpillar focused on the climb up the tree, foraging for the next meal, and the descent back down the trunk.
Why should anyone sacrifice what they could actually be doing instead of remaining in a chrysalis? “Why give up on what I can do now?” the caterpillar pondered.
The caterpillar continued on as normal. On a climb to the end of a branch, the caterpillar admired a butterfly that danced through the air far beyond the end of the leaves where the caterpillar could see. On the way down, thoughts surrounded life outside the tree. “What more could there be out there for me?” With no answers and an abundance of questions, the caterpillar found contentment in efforts that yielded results as opposed to brood on possibilities.
Along life’s journey, a friendship was struck with an enlightened caterpillar that had lived a full existence. She knew the end of her life was near. The sage offered her advice to the curious caterpillar. “You have to want to be a butterfly so much that you are willing to no longer be a caterpillar.”
For the year in a half that followed graduation, I stayed in my neighborhood with my guide dog Perry. Each day, we took on the variable challenges a winding route would provide. I applied for jobs, spoke with friends, nurtured ideas into concepts, and read books. A friend shook the tree a bit and invited me to attend an ethics workshop for Social Workers. From that opportunity, I began to seek out more adventures. There was life beyond the branch I safely traversed.
I loved Social Work so much that I knew I needed to apply those skills even if I may not get paid. It was June 2015; I had not conceived the idea that I might be unemployed for this long. If a year passed once more and I had not ventured from what I knew, I would regret the decision to stay safe.
I remained in familiar waters by applying for jobs, writing, and doing small volunteer tasks from time to time. Wasn’t I supposed to be vigilant about any new position and be the first to apply for an opening?
I offered my services to an organization where two colleagues, whom I hold in high regard, were employed; I committed to volunteer at least once a week. After all, the organization needed to know they could rely on me. I worked as hard as they did to allow me to keep up with the sighted Social Workers. I could not stay away. I wanted to know more. I sought to be stronger personally and professionally.
Like a chrysalis, I amerced myself in the environment. I was no longer content to stay on “the tree” from before volunteering. Turns out volunteering was a type of cocoon. What was, morphed into what will be. Although comfort and temporary happiness were sacrificed, my confidence fluttered with my new, sturdy wings.
This will be my first full week as a paid Social Worker for an organization dedicated to end domestic violence. I sense the metamorphosis. While there was certainty and predictability previous to volunteering full time, I am driven to explore what the world has to bring a life on a wing. The willingness to sacrifice and remain committed to positive change only makes me stronger.