I am uncomfortable.

I am uncomfortable…This feeling is a constant in my life recently. This is partially because I’m naturally awkward but also because I’m in the midst of deciding what I want to do with my life. My dream of becoming a Registered Dietitian is coming to fruition, but I don’t know what I want to do from here. For the first time I do not have a long term goal I am working towards, and having endless possibilities is only making it harder to narrow my focus and motivation.

I guess you could say I’m molting.

Crabs grow very differently than humans because hard outer shell cannot grow like their body. When crabs begin to feel uncomfortable in their current shell, they start the process of molting; shedding their shell and growing a new one.

They take in water, swelling their bodies and cracking their shell in half. Underneath, a soft, new shell separates from the old one. In the midst of shedding its old shell, the crabs often leaves behind its esophagus, stomach lining and part of its intestine! At this point, the crab’s shell is still soft – leaving it vulnerable and reliant on its surrounds for protection from predators. The new shell begins to harden within the next few days, fully developing within a month.

When humans grow bigger, we just buy new clothes. However, there are some lessons we can learn from crab’s physical growth that can be related to our personal growth as humans:

    Growth begins with being uncomfortable. Not comfortable with where you are? This is your signal it might be time for a new shell! It’s easy to think of ourselves as permanent figures, but in reality we’re constantly changing. You are not the same person you were 5 years ago, 1 year ago or even yesterday – and you can’t expect yourself to be.
    Sometimes the breaking point is just the beginning. You’ve all been there – you’ve reached the breaking point in a situation and it seems like your whole life crack right down the middle. This is not the end and definitely not the time to give up. It’s time to shed your old shell and start growing something that fits better.
    You need to leave some of yourself behind to continue to grow. You can’t move forward while carrying all the same things with you. Some things have to stay behind – things that might seem crucial at the time (like an esophagus or intestines — you’re not a crab so keep these!).
    You’re going to be vulnerable. Growth means making changes, taking chances and being vulnerable to new circumstances and the criticism of others. Vulnerability doesn’t always mean you’re going to get hurt or something bad is going to happen. It just means the risk is greater than it is inside your comfort zone. Remaining confident in yourself is key to surviving the feeling vulnerability.
    It’s okay to depend on those around you. No one can succeed all on their own. People need people, especially in times of change. Accept this, and ask for help! Sometimes just having someone to talk to is what you need most to make it through the changes.
    You’ll grow a new shell that fits just right. Change is a good thing! It might not seem like it at this moment but the new shell you’re growing is going to be just what you need. While there’s no guarantee when your shell will grow, have solace in knowing that it will sooner than you think. Enjoy the process of developing it!

    Happy Molting
    Kara

    Kara is a originally from Gordonsville, Virginia and is a recent graduate of James Madison University. She is now pursuing her career in Nutrition and Dietetics in the D.C./Maryland area. When Kara isn’t thinking about, talking about, making, photographing or actually eating food, she enjoys adventuring outside, running half marathons and spending time with her chinchillas, Milo and Asher.

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