How to Know if You’re Ready For a Rite of Passage

“If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?” my parents asked. 

It’s an ironic metaphor for parents getting kids to reconsider their desires, though. See, in 18th century Hawaii, jumping off cliffs showed your courage and strength. It was a rite of passage from adolescent to adult. King Kahekili even required warriors to jump off cliffs to prove their loyalty and forever earn his respect.1

In the modern world, we don’t complete feats of strength or tests of courage much; we rely on milestones like the legal driving, voting, and drinking ages and graduations to mark the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Some faith traditions hold ceremonies. Greek organizations require a selection and initiation process to enter their brother-or- sisterhood.

What is a rite of passage?

No matter the form, each rite of passage has three stages: the separation from one group or phase, a stretching of the self, and the incorporation into a new group or phase.2 A more general term for these periods of personal growth is “initiation.” to new life roles where

As a Catholic, I received “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding and courage”3 in my heart in the sacrament of Confirmation. This rite of initiation caused an especially deep change in me. The Holy Spirit triggered my very first menstrual cycle to begin the next day!

The Separation

While I no longer practice Catholicism, I am deeply spiritual. Something in my soul called me to break out of the limitation on my desires and express my true self. It called me to “jump off the cliff” of entrepreneurship. I started my coaching business and explored where my gifts, skills, and experience fit and felt right.

That journey felt like free fall… pulling away from my familiar life and who I have been, and questioning who I am and who I want to be. I dealt with my wounds and let go of childish & adolescent ways of living. It was terrifying, hard, and full of suffering. Until I surrendered to the process.

The Stretch

I found a metaphorical weightlessness, a surreal place where I related to everything in my life differently than ever before. As it turned out, I was jumping into the water of being the mature woman I’ve always wanted to be. It was as shocking and disorienting as the sudden stop cliff divers experience entering the water.4

A rite of passage takes you further into discovery of who you are at the core and who you’ll be going forward. It offers wisdom.

You may find yourself becoming softer, while your edges are more defined. You might find clarity of your roles or conviction about your beliefs. As I made my way back to solid ground, I found greater capacity for compassion, empathy, acceptance. More gratitude. More love.


I walk onto the shore and know that I hold space where you align with your soul, so that you can be at peace and shine your divine light.

I believe peaceful alignment is:
– Being safe and letting it all go
– Being known, seen, and loved unconditionally
– Honoring your values, speaking your truth, & acting on what’s important
– Expressing yourself freely (creating, performing, being, saying, doing)
– Owning the power and responsibility of who you REALLY are
– Taking good care of yourself (mind, body, emotion, spirit)
– Connecting to divinity inside and all around you

Regardless of the initiation, there is a period of integration. You may be disoriented, or enamored with curiosity and wonder (as I was). You experience moments of heightened awareness. In these instances, you can consciously choose your behavior, rather than be stuck with your old patterns and limitations.

The wisdom you earned is finding its way into your life.

Perhaps you sense that you’re moving into a new phase of life and are fed up with the frustration, exhaustion, resentment, and disappointment of your limitations and where you’ve been. Maybe you have a soulful, gut knowing that something new is possible.

Consider you’re at the top of a “cliff” in your life. If you surrender to your knowing and “jump..”

– What is possible for you?
– What would you say, do, or be?
– What wisdom would you discover and walk away with?

Please share your answers in the comments below.

 (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

NOTE: All photos taken by me, Jill Schnipke, near Bali, Indonesia in 2010. I did not jump off any real cliffs, nor should you. I’m writing in metaphor, folks.