What raising butterflies taught me about personal + professional growth
This summer, I became a monarch butterfly foster mom.
It was my first time, and I was inspired by a few friends and family members who had raised monarch caterpillars. I am a huge nature lover, a self-proclaimed flower child if you will, but I do admit that insects of any type give me a few heart palpitations. However, my desire to care for something and help out the pollinators outweighed any discomfort I felt at first. My coworkers can attest to this, I care A LOT.
Perhaps it’s my strong S placement in the DiSC model, the support I give to my coworkers, the dozens of plants that can be spotted in the back of Zoom meetings, my work towards creating even more equitable procedures, or the copious amounts of dog pictures I share that gives me away as a caring person. Either way, one spring morning I found the tiniest caterpillar and decided that I would be the one to raise it. Three more caterpillars would soon follow suit.
Each day, I watched as they grew more and more. Sometimes I held them, but most of the time I just simply observed. I provided them with food and shelter from predators. I watched as they prepared for the biggest change of their lives. I watched as they went into a chrysalis, seemingly destroying everything they once were. Then, I waited. It took two full weeks of waiting and daily check-ups before my butterflies appeared. When my first butterfly emerged, it was purely magical. I watched as the wings slowly unfurled and as they took their first flight.
Then, the day came. I had to let go, and let my little butterflies live the life they were intended to. Admittedly, I’m not great at goodbyes. I like clean endings, tied together with little bows, but never the actual goodbye part. Over the summer, I raised four monarch butterflies total. I’d be lying if I didn’t imagine a life where I kept them living with me. I had to remind myself often that I set out to give these important pollinators a chance to survive in the world and rebuild their dwindling population. It would be selfish of me to hold them back. So, I let go.
Butterflies are common metaphors for so much in our lives. Watching them change and grow, it was so easy to see why. 2020 and 2021 have been such turbulent years for so many, myself included. There have been so many changes and so many growth opportunities for all of us. I was actually laid off from my previous job during the first pandemic wave. Though this experience brought me many challenges; it also provided me with new opportunities to learn, gain new abilities, and brought me to my position here at Botree inc.
I learned so much about personal and professional growth while watching the journey these caterpillars went through. I wanted to share a few of my learnings in hopes that they help you put your own growth into perspective.
You are changing every day
It might not seem obvious, but perhaps you are simply too close to see your growth. Take a step back and check-in with yourself. What has changed over the last year? How are you different? Because of the pandemic, almost none of us are the same person that we were a year ago. It can be hard to see or acknowledge all of the growth you have been through in your day-to-day life. Here is your reminder: celebrate those little changes! Make time for yourself and all your little victories.
Growth can be messy
I watched four very hungry caterpillars collapse into a chrysalis; turning their entire selves into goo. The most magical part? The absolute masterpiece that came out of it. Did you know: studies show that butterflies might actually remember their caterpillar stages? It seems pretty hard to believe, especially after watching the chrysalis process, but I’d like to believe it’s real. You may have changed from who you once were, but you have always been this person. Sometimes, growth can be messy. Sometimes, growth can mean leaving behind the parts of you that no longer serve your goals. Ask yourself: what phase are you in now? Maybe you’re a caterpillar, maybe you’re a butterfly, or maybe you’re a pile of goo? I know I have definitely been a little “gooey” a few times in my life, no judgement here. These steps are all important in your journey of personal and professional growth.
Let go of what doesn’t serve you
It can be scary to let go. Sometimes, I find that I can hold myself back from opportunities by holding on to things that no longer serve me. In order to grow, it’s important to make sure that your needs are being met in your current situation. I could have kept my butterflies and known they were safe. Instead, I set them free. I didn’t want to hold them back from seeing the world, making friends and a family, smelling the flowers, or even just putting a smile on the face of anyone who sees them. New adventures await you too; sometimes you have to let go just a little bit.
As the weather gets cooler, and the butterflies in Ontario are on their migration journey to Mexico, I am reminded of the beauty in growth. It is mindblowing to me that the tiny caterpillars, against all odds, transform into butterflies and fly across the continent. It’s an amazing feat that these magical creatures take on, and I simply can’t help but be inspired by them. I hope that you are able to learn from the butterflies and allow yourself the opportunity to transform. Your personal and professional growth is so important. No one ever said it would be easy, but I can promise you that growth is always worth it.