Let me introduce my two Catherines.
Catherine A (let’s just call her ‘Ay’) is waist-deep in life and loves every second. She writes, she laughs, she licks her fingers after eating ribs, sings as she drives, dances in the kitchen and she never passes up the opportunity to chat over a cup of tea. Ay knows herself, and she’s thrilled to be here.
And over there, standing a little in the back, is Catherine B (aka Bea). And she’s a variation – she’s me being watched by other people. Bea has a tendency to choke on her words, blush to near-purple colours, feel dizzy with nerves, and avoid the spotlight as though it was really a laser beam sent from aliens hovering above earth to blow her into smithereens.
Frankly, I cannot stand Bea, and yet she’s always coming out at the very worst of moments. Just when Ay is gearing up to be brave, bold, and undeniably awesome – in swoops the alter ego, and out swoops the verve for life.
If you can relate to this division, I think that’s because it’s really rather rather normal forpeople to have some degree of split between their preception of self and the reality. There’s the ‘real you’ the ‘ideal you’ and I’d argue, the ‘scared you’. Though never before had I stopped to consider the drastic contrast between, for instance, me as a writer, and me as a person who talks about her writing. Totally different Catherines. When I write – I’m free. Words are better than chocolate, better than water, better than wind in your hair. Yet go ahead one day and ask me in person, “So Catherine, what do you write?” and I’ll get quiet, anxious, and mumble something about a blog, some copywriting, and a little fiction too.
A little fiction? I LOVE writing fiction. So who is this nervous wreck who can’t admit to her joys?
Well I guess she’s just scared. Timid. And frankly, she’s also incongruent.
Okay, okay. It’s weird to talk about myself so extensively in third person. Maybe I should have used a lemon merigne pie, sliced into various portions instead. But I had hoped Ay and Bea would illustrate the division. The point is, sometimes we’re fabulous and sometimes – in my case when it comes to pursuing goals in person, beyond the screen, face to face — sometime we crumble into idiot dust. And today I suddenly realized that division between who I am (healthy, cancer-free, and creative), and how I act.
It’s simply not on, to spin it with a British phrase. And not acceptable. Certainly hiding what I love, and how I love, does nothing in my favour. But for some reason there’s a “freak out” switch when it comes to aligning my goals and my behaviour.
Now please, ask yourself – right now: Who are you? What do you value most? And is that congruent with the way you present yourself to others? Do you live, breath and project the very essence of yourself, at all times, in all company, against all doubts?
Whether it’s health incongruence (feeling optimistic, yet scared about cancer), objective incongruence (having a dream, but not admiting it aloud), life incongruence (Loving your life, yet feeling incomplete) or whatever kind of incongruence you might have . . . it’s a hinderance, don’t you think?
And it means things need to be fixed. Realigned. Addressed.
Anyhow, practice makes perfect. So in my case, if you do meet me in person and we have a lovely conversation – please ask about my writing, and about my health, and about any darn thing you think I might be hiding. And if you like, I’ll ask you about your goals too (though you’ll need to let me know what they are first). Cause the only way to get over the anxiety (at least for me) is to face it head on.
So that was today’s mini ‘ah ha’ moment. Next up comes the follow through. And that’s a whole other blog post.
*Exciting news! My first review as a blogger for the Ottawa Writer’s Festival is being posted today. Follow this link to read my thoughts on Chef Michael Smith’s Ottawa appearance, and why he’s way more than a tall, handsome fellow who knows how to cook. Like a lot of us, he’s got a story and he’s passionate to share. Read it here! Woohoo!