Cicadas have long served as captivating beings of both wonder and delight. Their rhythmic buzzing and clicking, iridescent wings and ghost-like exoskeletons have enchanted artists, mystics, and earth-centered hearts for centuries.
In ancient China, cicadas symbolized immortality and rebirth, and small jade cicadas were placed in the mouths of the deceased to aid in their rebirth during burial customs (source). In some Maori traditions, the cicada’s emergence from the cave to sing his song is a symbol of strength (source). The ancient Greeks wrote poetry and epic, mythological tales of love and rebirth about these insects.
“O, shrill-voiced insect; that with dewdrops sweet,
Inebriate, dost in the desert woodlands sing;
Perched in the spray-top with indented feet,
Thy dusky body’s echoing harp-like ring.
Come, dear cicada, chip to all the grove,
The Nymphs and Pan, a new responsive strain;
That I, in the noontide sleep, may steal from love,
Reclined beneath the dark overspreading plane.”
-Meleager of Gadara, a first century B.C. Syrian-Greek poet (Source)
Before the cicada sings his first song, he spends his life deep in the fertile soil of the Earth as a nymph, anywhere from 2-17 years. Embedded within this being’s cellular makeup is the ability to determine when the timing and conditions are just right to emerge.
We can apply this cycle of emergence to the process of sharing our vulnerable truths.
There are many well-intentioned positive affirmations about speaking your truth, sharing what’s on your heart, and being bold about what you feel. While true in some respects, at face value these messages can lack the empathetic understanding that everyone has their own timing on when and where they share what’s on their hearts and a recognition that some healing may need to be done before this can happen.
As is the case with a world filled with trauma, abuse, and a widespread disdain for anything that challenges the status quo, many of us sensitive folk have learned that sharing our truths was unsafe. We may experience shame for our differences and unique ways of understanding the world. Not everyone appreciates the buzzing and clicking of the cicada’s song.
And like the cicada, those of us who have had our truths consistently met with rejection or pain—or sometimes worse, ambivalence—may now be burrowed in the Earth until it is time to emerge once again.
Soil provides the fertilization that fuels and sustains all of life and is also where all of life ultimately returns in death. Both cycles are often needed in the process of healing. Maybe we need to burrow into the loving arms of a group of soul friends who nourish us. Maybe we need to release old identities and thought-patterns that restrict our life force and self expression.
The process can be messy and nonlinear, as healing often is.
And if you are feeling called to speak your truth, but fear is holding you back, here are five reflection questions to consider:
- Have you told your story to yourself first? This can be through writing, art, music or whatever medium feels most right to you.
- Are you surrounded by people who uplift you and support you?
- Do you have a safe place to share your truth where it’s received with love?
- Are there small ways you can share your truth with a small circle before venturing into the world at large, if that is your aim?
- Are there allies in the physical and nonphysical realm who can assist you—perhaps your ancestors or a therapist or coach?
The rewards of speaking your truth, once ready, can be life changing.
As Brene Brown says, “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive. Self compassion is also critically important, but because shame is a social concept—it happens between people—it also heals best between people. A social wound needs a social balm, and empathy is that balm. Self-compassion is key because when we’re able to be gentle with ourselves in the midst of shame, we’re more likely to reach out, connect, and experience empathy” (Daring Greatly, p. 75).
Please know this: if you’re struggling with speaking your truth, you are not alone, and I understand. I was in that space for a long time and didn’t know the healing that I needed to do before this could be possible. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t simply emerge as everyone else seemed to have done. I hope this article offers some direction on where you can start, but also reassures you this is a process that you do in your own time. If you feel pressured to share by external forces outside of your own internal desire, it’s probably not the right time. Trust yourself and your inner knowing.
Emerge when you are ready. And your song will be a gift for all those who are lucky enough to hear it.