I had one of those days last week. I woke up later than I wanted to, and it took me a while to get moving. Then just as I was getting started, I realized that I had to deal with some insurance thing, which was – of course – a complete pain.
Eventually, I was out on the mountain on my skis, but the crowds were out in force by then. But I made my way to this part of the mountain I hadn’t been to before, and found this beautiful red run and a chair lift without much of a queue, and skied it again, and again, and again. I went all the way to the other side of Grandvalira, ate lunch, and came back. It ended up being a really good – albeit exhausting – day.
I like to think that I am some kind of Super Cate. That I bounce out of bed every morning and Achieve All The Things. This is true… maybe 60% of the time. Long haul flights, my cycle, getting sick… all derail it regularly. As do things that are well within my control such as, dehydration, forgetting to eat, exercising a lot, not exercising enough (and then not sleeping).
So a lot of the time, I can’t live up to my own expectations, and my own idea of myself… and I spend too much of that time beating myself up. For not being able to just shake off whatever it is, for not having done a better job at Life the previous day.
I feel like I’ve been confronting the difference between Super Cate and Cate a lot since I came to live up this mountain and ski. I used to be a ski instructor – something I was proud of, because (amongst other reasons) I didn’t learn to ski until I was 20. But I last skiied properly in New Zealand, because a couple of hours at the world’s longest indoor ski slope in Dubai doesn’t count. So when I arrived I was super anxious, and out of practise. I’ve been getting better (deliberate practise and a great instructor) but I’m just not as much of a daredevil as I was at 22. I’ve had about six concussions since then (most of them skiing, although there was that time a TV fell on my head), not to mention badly injuring my shoulder and my knee. I’ve been hit, badly, whilst skiing, twice. When I’m on the slopes (and there aren’t too many people around), I feel like I’m flying again, but the act of getting geared up for it is a complete PITA. I know two-three runs in I’ll be super happy, but that can take an hour to get to. It’s not a very immediate reward.
My most bitter breakup was over an argument about where to go on vacation. Of course it wasn’t really about that, or so I concluded once the hurt (and frankly, amusement) faded. It was about his need to be seen a certain way, and my inability to bolster that self image.
I think that the gap between who you like to think you are, and who you actually are, is a hard place to be. It’s not something you can ask other people to do for you, or fix for you – you have to do the work yourself. When I’m not being Super Cate, the way it highlights my inadequacies… I hate it. But those days are also when I see most clearly what I need to do to be the kind of human I aspire to be. If I can stop beating myself up, I might just make progress instead.
The days when Super Cate bounces out of bed and goes hurtling around the mountain and then Achieves All The Digital Things are awesome, and energizing, and invigorating. But the days when Human Cate is not feeling it, does it anyway, and ends up having a good time before collapsing on a heap on the sofa… well Human Cate worked harder for it. I’m prouder of her.