Apparently all of us have a fantasy profession. Have you ever thought about it? About what you'd be if only...?
Mine is kind of surprising. Secretly, I would love to be an orthodontist.
Don't get me wrong -- I don't actually want to become an orthodontist. First up: science...which always makes me think, 'Do I care??' Then there are the years of uni. But ever since I had my own adult braces, and walked two sons through their braces as well, I have become strangely intrigued by orthodontics.
I mean, braces are MAGICAL.
You get a beautiful result and you don't have to try. You don't have to run or stop eating cookies or practise your serve or learn to whip up a souffle...you just put up with the braces, go to a zillion appointments, wait two years and voila...all better.
(Okay, apologies for the Before & After selfies, but I have to tell you a funny story...The day I got my braces off, I texted this photo to my mom. 'Look,' I wrote, 'no braces!!' She wrote back, 'Oh honey, you look great. You look just like you have false teeth.'
So anyway, I've found that most things in life do not work like braces.
To get a different result, you have to actively seek out discomfort. You have to do stuff. New stuff. Hard stuff. And keep on doing it.
It's such a bummer.
I mean -- who wants to be brave? Awkward? Fearful? Who wants to run up a hill, then another one? (Okay, sporty people do, but generally I feel the same way about sports as I do about science. My husband and sons and trainer all tell me that sporty people already know the lesson about Discomfort. They learned it at training. Go figure.)
I've finally realised there is a weird correlation between how uncomfortable you can stand being and how much you achieve.
We put off being uncomfortable, hoping we can make up for it...tomorrow. It's like Elias Canetti writes in The Human Province:
There is never going to be more time.
We have to do it now.
Being scared is okay. Feeling exposed is okay. Feeling stupid, with a side order of ridiculous, is okay.
But seeking comfort instead of taking a shot at the basket will keep us stuck. Forever.
My son's amazing orthodontist, Alannah, said something to me recently when we were talking about my book. I told her I felt nervous now that my manuscript was being read by five amazing publishers. (Okay, nervous and excited. Nervous and hopeful. Nervous and grateful.) What if it doesn't work out? What if I have to tell people I tried and failed?
In her delicious Scottish accent, Alannah said to me:
Just listen to the orthodontist, CATHERINE: discomfort is a good thing. It's the only way to get somewhere you've never been.
With small enough steps, anyone can run up a hill.