Who, as a child, has not been mesmerized by the beauty and delicacy of a butterfly? Defying gravity with every beat of its wings, its exquisite colors captivating our imaginations. And, of course, there is that incredible transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. How is that even possible? What remarkable changes occur while the pupa resides in its chrysalis, walled off from the eyes of the rest of the world? What changes indeed. A thought occurred to me the other day while I observed someone seated at a restaurant table not far from me. She seemed so completely together in every way that I was not. Her clothing so stylish and fitting her body perfectly. Her color coordination, accessories, and makeup accenting her beauty in subtle but lovely ways … her hair so perfectly coiffed and her manners pristine. I watched her in utter fascination, feeling quite common in comparison. She was elegant and refined, while I felt boorish and unpolished next to her. And I couldn’t help but wonder what her life was like. How did she come to be like this? As a child, was she molested as I was? Was she raised in a family with mental health issues? Was she shamed by her mother for her sexual orientation? Did her family punish her with emotional abandonment and physical isolation? How could someone like her ever relate to someone like me? And then I realized I was overlooking one very important thing … not everyone wears their pain and life experiences as a badge of honor for all to see. Many of us suffer in private, but many of us also resolve to rise above the challenges of our past … to elevate our state of mind and standard of living above and beyond the trauma we were born into. I’ll never know if that breathtaking woman at the table across the room had ever had to navigate through trauma and chaos to reach the perfection she presents to the world … much like the extraordinary coloration and perfect symmetry of a butterfly shows no hint of its humble caterpillar beginnings.