Making a Run for It: Taking Risks to Find Opportunity
“And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to open.” -Anaïs Nin
So; hermit crabs. As a kid I was fascinated, and more than a little grossed out by these odd, non-cuddly pets that camped out in a wide variety of puff-painted, bejeweled shells. What I hadn't considered at the time was that their vagabond lifestyle is a result of the fact that biologically these little guys are naked as...well, as a crab without a shell. In light of the fact that they don't grow a shell of their own, they are forced to find suitable accommodations that have been cast off by mollusks (who have gone on to mollusk heaven). As the hermit crabs grow, they have to find another shell that will support their new rock and roll lifestyle (i.e. a larger body). One could say they are literally the squatters of the crustacean world.
But don't we do much the same? We cling to these shells; carcasses of a time gone by (just like the mollusk shells of our little hermit crabs). We seek out comfort and protection and we grab on tight, too afraid of what will happen to our tails if we don't anchor them into something established; something concrete and safe. We drag so much around with us everyday in the name of security and familiarity that we forget how it feels to genuinely connect with those around us and embrace who we are. We deny how heavy the load actually is and forget that we can let go of this ill-fitting shelter that we have confined ourselves within and find something maybe just a tiny bit more aerodynamic…Sometimes this means we hide behind a persona - we are the hunched old man trying to portray ourselves as the Wizard of Oz, afraid that others will not see how wonderful we truly are unless we flash the lights a little and perform some magic tricks. Sometimes these shells are a lifestyle that we hide within. It's the Stepford perfect, shiny veneer layered in lacquer creating a barrier stronger than any mollusk shell we could find - there is a house, a car, a family. There is a dog in the back yard, a roast on the table and a pan of brownies in the oven. Our shells can look like holding on to the job we are 'supposed' to have or the relationship that we 'should' be in or it can look like always displaying the 'acceptable behavior' or being politically correct in every situation.
This is very safe.
But it's not real.
The secret to learning from the hermit crab is that the reason they have to leave the shell is because they are too big. They have reached a point in which the walls that kept them safe are now limiting who they can be and how much they can grow. We are stunting our growth in the name of convention. of safety. of acceptable. and we are keeping ourselves small. All because we are too afraid to let those go and run around with no pants on for a change. I'm not saying that we all have to commit to stripping to no shell at all. (Though I encourage you to try it - you will never go back.) What I am saying is that we need to start becoming aware of our shell.
Step 1: stop the denial. Like the hermit crab we must constantly evaluate the shell that we have decided to carry around and assess if it continues to offer a healthy, thriving environment or if it is beginning to emotionally pinch and make us grumpy. The hunt for a larger shell involves some searching. Just as the crab combs the beach, we must rake through our mental space looking for the right fit. And while we do this, there is awkward flailing. We are not accustomed to being so exposed; we may even get a bit of a sunburn on those tender bits that haven't seen the light of day in awhile.
If a little hermit crab can let go of all that is familiar and crawl out naked and vulnerable in search of a new home, we too can branch out (maybe keep your clothes on for the neighbors’ sake). We must find and embrace the unfamiliar, sometimes intimidating, scary situations in order to gain that bigger shell that is a much better fit for the new, incrementally more fabulous version of ourselves. While we are out on the hunt we may even find that we can enjoy the slight exhileration of the unknown. We won’t know what’s out there until we actually shed what is holding us back and embrace the risk.
Yes, there will be painful moments, but you might find the fresh air so exhilarating on your nether regions that you kind of like the breeze. Try it - share with us all how it goes.
Thanks for diving down the rabbit hole with me!
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Have a wonderful week, lovelies. Believe in your unique entelechy and actualize your wonderful.