Once upon a time…there was a caterpillar named Hilda. She had no close friends in her community. Her friends had all abandoned her because she was still a caterpillar and they had moved on to the next phase. The butterflies there had deemed her “abnormal,” mostly because she was still a caterpillar and possibly would be for the rest of her life. She thought something must be wrong with her, because she was “different,” and “different” is scary to “normal” people. They locked her up in a tiny box. She didn’t know how long she was in there. Hours? Days? Months? The days bled together. It was a space too tight to build a cocoon. Hilda had tried to be normal and to act the way other caterpillars acted. She tried to be popular. Hilda’s goal as a caterpillar was to be such a beautiful butterfly that others would desire wholeheartedly to be her friend. Several groups of friends had pushed her out or moved on. There was trivia, writing groups, game nights, and hero quests. Everyone shut her out and she ended up in this box, confused and alone. Hilda’s real friends all lived far away. Sometimes it struck her in the gut when she realized she might not see them again if she never made it out of this box. Hilda began to believe that she built this box around herself to prevent inevitable heartache.
Hilda learned a lot in the box as she accepted defeat. She had searched for every possibility of escape. She began to know herself better than anyone ever could or would again. Hilda was changed. She was not a butterfly and would never sprout wings, so she settled in and succumbed to her dark captivity. One day, her situation altered drastically. There was a sliver of light peeking through a corner of the box. Had it been there long? Why was it here now? Seeing that light instilled hope inside Hilda. Was help on the way? She shielded her eyes, as they adjusted to this new development. Next, the walls seemed to crumble and fall away. The caterpillar felt a strange tingling between her shoulder blades. Was her period of solitude falling down around her?
When Hilda could see all she had been missing, the first pair of eyes she saw were her own. She was looking into a pond of fresh water. How did she get there? Surely, she had not crawled. Maybe she was so glad to be outside that her tiny feet started moving and never wanted to stop. But how had she gotten to this place so quickly? How far had she traveled? Upon further inspection, Hilda observed the beautiful wings on her back, fluttering in a soft breeze. Now she could visit her real friends. Hilda came to the conclusion that it didn’t matter what she looked like, or what people thought of her. She was finally free, and eternally grateful.