One of the most defining characteristics when it comes to turtles is their hard outer shells. This tough top and bottom covering is intended to help protect them from predators as well as make it easier to float through the water in order to get from one place to the next. But as the turtle grows, so too must the shell. This process requires a sort of peeling away of the smaller shell so a bigger, more fitting shell can emerge.
Human beings go through a similar process in discovering our most authentic selves. We have to peel away the layers that no longer work for us, leaving them behind in order to make way for the newer, more fitting layers that we need in our lives at the time.
A lot of people feel as if they don’t have the power to change in this way, like they don’t have choices or “can’t” do whatever it takes. That whatever shell they are wearing is the one they will wear forever. However, we all can change and grow to suit what we need. Granted, it may not be easy and we may have to let some things go in order to do it, but it is always up to us whether or not we choose to go through this process in an effort to see what lies on the other side.
Sometimes the outcome is more beautiful than we imagined, like when the caterpillar morphs into the colorful and carefree butterfly. Sometimes we simply emerge with the same type of skin, but in a size that fits us better, that matches the growth we’ve made, as is the case with a snake which sheds its outer covering two to four times each year.
And it is during this process that we typically feel the most vulnerable, like we’re suddenly standing there naked for the whole world to see, faults and all. Occupying that space of vulnerability can make it hard to move forward. Often at this juncture we decide to take the safer route and choose to retreat into our existing shell. Deciding that it is in our best interest to just stay where we are. It’s “too hard” to get wherever it is we want to go.
But if we take this approach, if we’re not true to our authentic selves, it’s like living in a skin or shell that no longer fits. Every day becomes a little more uncomfortable and, before we know it, we’ve severely outgrown our world, making it even harder to survive because we’re essentially strangling ourselves. We’re getting in our own way by not allowing nature to simply take its course.
Remember this every time life gets a little tough and it feels like you’re outgrowing wherever it is you are. If you choose to ignore that feeling, you may just wake up one day in a world in which nothing fits, and where nothing makes sense. A world where you experience discomfort on such a regular basis that it becomes a way of life.
On the other hand, once you realize that you need to shed your skin or peel your shell in order to promote your growth, you live with the understanding that a newer, stronger you will most definitely emerge on the other side. That empowers your process because you know that it’s necessary to get you where you want to be. Where you deserve to be. Where you’ve never felt happier or more complete.
Like a turtle, you will grow with yourself, and outfit yourself in the shell that fits you best.