Do caterpillars fear becoming butterflies?

Three years ago, I had everything I’m supposed to have: a great house, a husband and pigeon pair of kids, a Peugeot station wagon in the driveway, a huge wardrobe.

I cried myself to sleep every night.

I thought something was wrong with me, because none of it was making me happy.

In among the vast amounts of things that make up what we call a “successful life”, I never felt so completely lonely.

I wondered, Is this IT? Is this all my life is? Is this who and what I am? Shouldn’t it all mean more?

I know a lot of people go through the same processes I did. Some people might call it a mid-life crisis.

I call it my awakening.


Fearing the chrysalis

Here I am, three years on. My huge house is sold – we’ll be leaving it all behind very soon. I’m taking my first steps into the void.

I’m separated from my husband, and I’ve found a new partner.

I’ve sold, given away, or thrown away about 90% of my possessions.

I have a capsule wardrobe of 33 items, or less.

I’m truly happy, for the first time since I don’t know when.

I feel calm, at peace, even while at the same time I’m scared at where this path of minimalism and simplicity is leading me.

I don’t know where I’ll be living even two months from now. I don’t have a job waiting for me. My life lacks security.

Despite the fear, I’m okay with that. I have faith in myself and I believe that I will work everything out.

Do caterpillars fear becoming butterflies?

Big changes – huge changes – are scary. But they’re necessary in order to grow and learn as human beings.

Becoming a minimalist, where I was a consumerist or maybe even a maximalist before, is a huge change. I’m flying away from everything I know, everything our society teaches: that more will make us happy, that material wealth is satisfying, and that what our neighbours think truly matters.

The truth is, there is no such thing as enough, if you base your joy in things. There never will be enough. Enough doesn’t exist. Never did.

But if we stop, listen, breathe, and take time to reflect on what truly makes us happy – if we face our fears head on – then we might find that our own personal enough is quite a small amount after all.

Monarch butterfly Peter Miller
Monarch butterfly by Peter Miller.


  1. After I left my husband I read ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’. I’d already done that out of necessity but it is useful to remember that fear is often over a hypothetical concern rather than a real one.


    1. Hi Helen – I’ve heard of that book – is it worth reading? You’re absolutely right though about us fearing stuff that is hypothetical. I’ve run through all the things that could go wrong, and the truth is, most of it is very unlikely to happen. In the end, my life needed to change, and now I’m making it happen (although I have dragged my feet every step of the way through this process!). It’s scary, but it was always going to be scary.

      I think I’ll be oka, and I’m assuming from the way you’re talking that everything has turned out okay for you? I hope so!


      1. Yes, I’d say it is definitely worth the read – although it’s more useful for me in general life than at the time I was leaving my abusive husband as I’d already taken the leap to a better life in as far as that went.

        Anyway, life is back to normal after a few years of roller-coaster events. Part of me wishes I could have a new and healthy relationship with a man but circumstances make it quite a challenge to meet one and get to know him, so I’m happy to enjoy being single 😊.

        Life can be scary, whichever path you take, so good on you for reaching out for the best you can have.


  2. Helen, I can relate to your “before”. I live it every day…too much stuff and too little time to deal with it all. Thanks for writing this. -Tabitha


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s