I love the fairy tale, The Ugly Duckling, written by Hans Christian Anderson in 1844. Here’s the Cliff Notes version. One spring day, a baby swan is born into a duck family and it’s immediately apparent that he just doesn’t belong: His egg is much larger than the others and after he’s born, he’s physically bigger, more gray, and gangly than his siblings. His family members and the rest of his community shun and criticize this ugly duckling, so he leaves home in shame. He then travels around the countryside looking for a home among a variety of other animals and humans, although they all shun and drive him away. Finally, in the Fall, the ugly duckling arrives at a small pond, where he sees several swan flying across the sky and honking as they depart. He feels a stirring inside himself as he watches these elegant creatures fly away, unaware that he himself is a swan. So the ugly duckling remains in the pond throughout the winter, bearing the freezing ice and snow. When Spring arrives the following year, the migrating swans return to the pond, and the ugly duckling, upon noticing them, bows his head in shame. Suddenly, he sees his own reflection in the water and finally realizes that he is a swan!
The Ugly Duckling (w/Danny Kaye)
There are many interpretations of this story. To me, it is a calling for each of us to step into our “swanhood,” no matter how often we feel separate, different, ugly, and alone. You probably have had many ugly duckling incidents where you heard different versions of “You don’t belong!” from various characters in your life (e.g., a partner, family member, childhood crush, teacher). If you’re like me, you made those events mean something very negative about yourself (e.g., “I’m a big loser.”) Perhaps you survived, as I did, by stuffing those ugly duckling stories into an overflowing recycling bin, where they played over and over again. The situations and characters in my life may have differed, but my starring role never changed. Hmmm.
Take a moment to ask yourself this question:
Question: Where in your life’s journey have you felt rejected, criticized, shunned or alone?
Now ask yourself: What’s the real deal – the T.R.U.T.H.??
Instead of rejecting, resisting, or recycling your ugly duckling stories, there is tremendous power in bringing them to the surface and then releasing them. Why? Because they are fairy tales. Here’s the truth of who you are: You were born whole, complete, and perfect; nothing missing, nothing lacking, and nothing wrong. You are a divine spark that is here to shine brightly and unleash your unique gifts, talents, and creativity in the world as your beautiful swan song. Since you are a child of the most High, you’ve inherited the queendom and kingdom already, so there’s no waiting line. There is absolutely nothing you need to be or do to receive your inheritance. It is grace, and it is your divine nature. Your purpose and passions came fully funded, orchestrated, and supported by the universe, as you entered this world. Just as the acorn knows how to be an oak tree, and just as the baby swan has everything it needs to become a swan while in the shell, so too you are fully equipped to experience and express the magnificent you.
Breathe. Isn’t that awesome?
Now, You might be wondering, why, if you came into this world with everything that you need and more, you still feel like an ugly duckling who’s not living the life you love?
Question: “I’m not experiencing the life of my dreams? Why not?”
Answer: You’re buying into the myths that your ego and the world tell you are the truth. You know, those stories of how you’re not being, doing, or having enough; the myth that you are not worthy of living the life that you love. (More details on these myths in the next blog installment).
This week, I invite you to take on three ugly duckling antidotes, in order to remember the gorgeous swan that you are!
Ugly Duckling Antidotes
1) Write down three qualities or values that are really important to you; not what you do, or what you have, or what you look like. Instead, list the aspects of who you are in the world.
2) Complete this affirmation with those three aspects, and post it in a visible spot throughout your week: Who I Really Am Is _______________, __________________, and __________________.
3) Ask three trusted friends to tell you what they love most about you. Take a deep breath. Allow their feedback to sink in. Then ask yourself: What is possible for me, if what they say is true?
“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.” ~Helen Keller