Have you ever felt like an outsider looking into your own life? Like you were physically one place, yet deeply aching to be somewhere else for reasons you didn’t understand? You moved through the motions you were supposed to, until one day, you looked in the mirror and the pangs of uncomfortable truth reflected back at you with unavoidable confrontation: in a repressed moment of reckoning, you realized that somehow, somewhere along the way, you had lost you.
I remember my moment of reckoning—the day when my process of personal growth began. There was an intuitive instinct telling me that I had to work to shed what wasn’t serving me in order to create the space to expand into my greatest potential. In my own way, I began molting…and it has been an ongoing, cyclical process ever since.
Birds molt feathers that have been damaged or worn so that they can grow a fresh set to keep them in top flying condition. This is a natural process that occurs in response to the seasons changing. Maybe it’s trite, but there’s a reason why I’m owning this metaphor.
I’m looking out at a lake as I write this, watching ducks, geese and swans glide across the still winter water, and I’m reflecting on the end of this year. As I anticipate the start of another, I’m marveling at the beauty of this real life scene that looks like it could only be captured in a painting. The thing about ducks, geese and swans is that when they molt, they lose all of their flight feathers at once. For a period of time, this renders them flightless.
I can’t help but reconcile with the fact that, in a way, flightless is how I’ve felt lately.
After seven years of seasonal “molting,” I’ve given up every comfort I’ve known to move to a new city and start over…years of work have led to new opportunities, and now I’m finding myself in nature’s inevitable cycle—at the very beginning, starting all over again.
I physically shed the possessions I placed value in and mentally shed the attachments to everything and everyone that was familiar. Now that the dust has settled and I’m finding a new groove in a new city, I feel stripped of everything that once was my external coat of colorful armor. But I know that this feeling of discomfort is the zone in which exponential growth begins.
For the first time in my life, I’m finding the courage to sit in this space and work through it.
When I look at everyone else’s lives on social media—those who inspire me— the steps to abundance look so clear-cut. Project A leads to opportunity B, which leads to lifestyle C. Yet, the reality is, as I work to reach the milestones of growth in my own life, I have one foot in the past, one foot in the present, and an arm in the future…all at once. Each component of my life is fueling the other to barely keep me airborne until I’m strong enough to soar.
Growth is a process that is never ending…and never is it clean. It’s messy, and as someone who prefers things to be orderly, this reality is one I’m constantly working to accept. I like clear closure and fresh page turns to start new chapters. But that just isn’t how sustained and transformational change works.
I seldom, if ever, see growth explained in this way. It’s worth every discomfort to push yourself, and give up what you know to work toward your fullest potential. Some aspects of your life just might feel temporarily flightless as you regrow the strongest feathers for your greatest journey of all.