Inspiration, Photography

The Beauty of Painful Transformations

yuliya rae seattle fashion portrait creative photographer butterfly chrysalis

“You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any miseries, or any depressions? For after all, you do not know what work these conditions are doing inside you.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

As a society we are conditioned to avoid suffering. Just walk through the self-help section of any bookstore and you’ll quickly glimpse titles like “Happy 95% of the Time“, “Happiness: Your Route Map to Inner Journey“, “How to Be Happy” and “Be Happy Now“, just to name a few.

We are obsessed with being happy. I don’t blame us – who wants to deal with pain, suffering, processing and identifying emotions raging within us when we can just push it all away and be happy?

We go through life chasing highs – exotic vacations, a new car, that dress that was so popular on Runway this season. But the problem with highs is that they come and go; their very nature is temporary.

A significant portion of my adolescent and adult life was spent obsessing about being happy. And when I wasn’t, I needed to find someone or something to blame, be it my job, my commute, my living situation or even the person I was dating at the time. I couldn’t and didn’t realize the underlying pain and suffering, I couldn’t address it, hold it or comfort it until much later on.

The last year has been very transformative for me for many reasons, one of the main ones being that I am finally finding out who I am and coming to love that person more than anything or anyone in the world.

However the process of transforming from a person whose default was to be perfect in every way, regardless of how it made her feel, to a person who is embracing her imperfections was and continues to be filled with pain, discomfort and suffering.

And I am so glad it is.

Because as many before me already discovered – pain and suffering are the greatest gifts that are given to us. They are incredible tools of getting to know yourself better and being the comfort to yourself that you constantly seek out in the world.

The transformation and the difficult process that goes alongside it is not only crucial for our development as humans, it is also beautiful.

Which is how an idea was born in my mind to showcase a transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly, focusing especially on the chrysalis stage.

They say when a caterpillar becomes a chrysalis and later struggles to become a butterfly, not only is it unnecessary for any outsider to provide help, it will be devastating if they do. The butterfly will never be able to build the strength needed to fly on its own and it will die quickly, without ever getting a chance to fly.

I think this process is uncannily similar to our transformation as individuals – we have to go through it alone, struggling to grow strong to get out of a dark cocoon and spread our wings to fly.

So here is the beautiful set we shot with an amazing team of artists to let the world be reminded again of how despite being surrounded with darkness and fear we always have the strength inside us to transform into the most vibrant butterfly.

Model: Rachel Dooley
Make-up artist: Codee Bradley of C.M.B. Artistry



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