Invisibility is a safe, warm place to grow undisturbed… but at some time, if you truly want to make an impact, you’ve got to burst out and spread your wings.
One clear April morning, I found out I was getting a divorce.
I say “one morning" because I truly don’t know the date. I was in such shock, I didn’t take note of it. Even my journal—meticulous about all such life events—has a gap for several days around that time. Maybe it’s better that way.
Changes followed swiftly. That life was over, and that was all.
Within one month I found myself moving out of a 3,000 square foot house into a 400 square foot studio apartment. (And I may be generous there on my math.) I literally walked my belongings down and back, over and over again, the six blocks between the old address and the new. It felt like a thousand miles.
Still, I grew to love my new apartment. For the next nine months—some of the most pivotal in my life and business—it became my sanctuary. I painted it. (Because happiness comes in flat, satin and eggshell.) I hung the few pictures I’d taken with me. (Note to self: command hooks are nothing short of miraculous.) And I wrapped the only piece of my wedding dress that I kept—the tulle train—in white lights for a canopy over my bed.
That apartment was like a cocoon.
In it, I lay curled away in the dark, processing and healing. I confronted my debilitating fear of anything financial and created the most successful year in my business ever. I hired my first contractor, and then four more. I got clear on what my business was going to be in its next phase, and realized that in the wake of tragedy, at some point, I was going to have to burst out of my safe sack.
But I didn’t want to.
Cocoons are wonderful, aren’t they? They’re safe, cozy and nurturing. We belong there. No one judges us. Prying eyes are shut off away behind closed doors and drawn curtains. In our cocoons, we don’t have to be seen.
We all need a cocoon sometimes, whether it’s an apartment of our own, the back corner of the coffee shop, or even your business. Small things feel safe. They feel manageable, and above all, there’s no one who can watch us and judge.
But small places must break wide open if we’re ever going to spread our wings, and ride the updrafts into a wider, more expansive place.
New Year 2017 finally rolled around. I knew in my heart that “expansive” was going to be my word for the year. l wanted to expand out of my own limiting beliefs about my business. Not to mention the new income plateau I’d hit—even though just last year I couldn’t ever have imagined making so much. I also knew I had to confront the thing I’ve been teaching for years, but had never really done for myself: come out of my invisibility.
When I realized that, I also knew that I’d have to move into a larger apartment. Not just because my cats and I were falling all over each other and the friends who came to visit, but because I needed to spread my wings in my own space before spreading them in the wider world.
I hugged the purple walls of my post-divorce cocoon and cried.
It feels so safe not to be seen.
Source has a sense of humor, I feel. Whether you acknowledge Him as God, or prefer the term The Universe, or Higher Power, it’s clear that there’s Someone Greater working all things out. In my case, two weeks after I committed to really expanding—both in my business and in my living quarters—I was referred to a nearby apartment building, where I entered the most amazing apartment I had ever seen. Not to mention one of the biggest! Coincidence? I don’t think so.
I loved everything about it, from the creaky wooden staircase that led to the second floor, to the two storey living room with huge windows, the kitchen with its own real butler’s pantry, and three spacious bedrooms plus two baths.
Immediately I knew this was my new place.
What was more, I knew it not just mine for me, but mine to share with many friends and people I haven’t even met yet. Also mine to serve as a “hub” for my business—even given me space for a permanent iPhone video “studio” to make regular videos for my business. (A great way to be visible … but a huge stretch for my introverted personality!)
In that moment, I knew my cocoon had split and there was no going back. I was thrilled beyond words that the vision I had seen for my expansive life was already coming to pass in the first week of January. But I was also sad. Intensely, immensely sad.
Because I knew that once I emerged from my cocoon, there would be no going back. There would be no more safe, no more quiet, no more unseen. Maybe that’s what I was afraid of all along, any time I contemplated becoming more visible in my business, and letting the world really see who I am and what I have to offer.
To be seen, by its very definition, is not safe.
But it’s where the adventure lies.
The cocoon is a beautiful part of our journey. But it’s not meant to last forever. I knew that the day I signed my new lease. Nothing in my life has ever felt so scary or so incredibly … right.
Because in order to step out, step up, and make the impact we were born for, we have to split the cocoon, crawl out and dry our wings. Visibility won’t be as warm, dark or safe as the cocoon of invisibility. But it will be exciting. And at long last, we might actually feel like we’re making a difference.
Your cocoon will always call, but you have the choice to stay within it--or split it wide open.
Are you ready to spread your wings?
Until next time, speak freely.
Have you gone through a time of transition when you needed a cocoon to shelter you? What did you learn most from being in this "safe space?" Comment below.
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