Who Am I?

Skabt af Cathrine Widunok Wichmand

I find the feedback on the brief mentioning of my lack of self-confidence so interesting that I decided to turn to the keyboard once again.

The thing is that it may be a tad difficult for others to recognise this if you’re really good at smiling and being on. Which I am! It also has been my job for very many years. As a radio host, I had to master the art of parking everything outside the studio door. We were taught to do that. Whether you had a fight with your boyfriend, just got your period (speaking of this picture on insta). No one in Denmark can be bothered to hear about that – they tune in with the intention of escaping a bit and being entertained. And on the blog to some extent as well. I need to be able to park things. Even though I spent the majority of 2017 in deep fertility pain, I still managed to dress up and smile for photos. That’s part of the job – using the pain as and when it makes sense, but also to park it when it doesn’t. 

I smile 99 % of the time. I smile when I walk alone on the street, I smile at sales assistants, I smile at Frida. As a young teenager with an aching body and heart, I was actually told by a therapist that a smile is a gift, and that you decide to whom you want to give it. In effect, you don’t have to throw it like confetti, just because a meme tells you to. For my part, I interpreted it as indicating that you don’t owe it to anyone to be happy all the time. It is okay to be ‘difficult,’ it is okay to be sad. Often when I’ve been sitting in a therapy process, I’ve really had to work on being able to articulate the difficult stuff without throwing in a joke and a smile – trying to serve the issues raw and honestly as they are. Without taking into consideration how uncomfortable it might have been to receive it on the other end. 

Rockpaperdresses, Cathrine Widunok Wichmand, Stine Goya yellow coat

So yes, it may be a bit hard to detect – my self-confidence is playing games. Not to the extent that it affects my intrinsic happiness, the wonderful things I’ve got, my feeling of being fortunate. It has nevertheless resulted in me feeling misaligned with myself.

Like one of you wrote earlier – it’s as if your identity is thrown up in the air and land again when you become a mum.

Who am I actually? Now?

As part of my preparation for becoming a mum with a business on the side, I had quite a few chats with Barbara (my agent). First and foremost because it was incredibly quiet on the collaboration front, which definitely was a result of people wanting to respect my new and vulnerable life as a mother. And perhaps also because they wanted to assess which role this would end up playing in my universe – before putting in the big order. If you were a fashion brand and I went crazy with dirty diapers, it might be a wrong match, and who knows what it will look like until you’re standing in the middle of it, right? It definitely made me super nervous, because in a little while Adam will be on benefits for 22 weeks, which will make me the main breadwinner. I felt quite unnerved and couldn’t help but wonder whether I’d still be relevant to clients. Barbara kept her cool and wasn’t as nervous as I. But we also agreed on less ‘baby’ on instagram – at least if my intention was to hold on to the pre-baby client segment. What you serve is what the clients buy into. So, if as of now I’m not that interested in lots of baby-collaborations, I need to get away from showing too much of that. If I want to keep the fashion clients, I need to reflect fashion.

Rockpaperdresses, Cathrine Widunok Wichmand, Stine Goya yellow coat

As a consequence, I’ve started using my baby wrap carrier less in order to produce instagram content that’s less baby-focussed. Damn hard to see your outfit if you’ve got 65 centimetres of human being dangling across your body (and before you start thinking that it’s a shame about the wrap; during the past month and a half, he has actually started to take longer naps in the stroller than in the wrap, so although I’m not at all done with wrapping and would love to enforce a daily ‘wrapping nap’ things have actually been aligned in that regard). And I’ve definitely been quicker at applying makeup than before, because ‘what if a photo-op came about…,’ in which case I’d want to show a proper face (bonus: it has been quite nice to feel like I stood out from the wall).

But I am also just a mum. A breastfeeding, sleep-deprived mum who wears the same jeans three days in a row because ‘they were the ones that were there, and I had to get dressed quickly.’

Rockpaperdresses, Cathrine Widunok Wichmand, Stine Goya yellow coat

And I also feel very mum. It absorbs my headspace and every fibre in me. That’s not where I feel inadequate. It’s as me. The old me. The one with energy for clearing up (okay, haha, I’ve actually never been good at that, but, you know), doing her laundry and folding it neatly in the closet (hey clothes chair – where are you? All I see is a mountain of cotton). The one who just calls up her friend to chit-chat, remembers when they have a job interview and wishes them good luck (hello ‘fuck, yesterday was your birthday – I am so sorry’). A night with wine and friends – that’s really something which enriches my spirit and boosts my confidence. A good workout, where I can feel all of the fibres working (hey abs, do you need time to find each other again? Okay!). The energy to cook healthy and nourishing food (hello eggs on rye and mayo pile). Nice underwear (hello breastfeeding bra, which I’ve slept in and worn three days in a row (because I (again) didn’t get around to doing laundry yesterday). 

I’m very out of tune with a lot of the selfcare things that the old version of me was so good at stocking up on. Which obviously is completely natural and something that happens to everyone. And no one can do it all at once. And everything in due course! But you can’t talk sense into someone’s faltering self-confidence. And faltering it is in my attempt to bridge my new sense of self with my old. Because I am not just one thing – most of us are multiple versions of ourselves. Professionally vs. privately vs. with friends vs. as a parent. And the integration of mum into my old life has not been smooth. It has been BAM! I am a mother. Above everything else. 

Rockpaperdresses, Cathrine Widunok Wichmand, Stine Goya yellow coat

Now there’s a small old-me in the corner who is whispering, ‘I’m here too.’ And my job requires dusting her off a bit sooner than what’s normal.

But she is there as well – even in a changed version. That’s inevitable with something as invasive as a baby in your home, hehe… (and thank god for that!). But when I then still follow the same types on instagram as before, young, cool chicks with a great sense of fashion, colours and makeup, I do feel a bit off. And even though it’s easy to say, ‘Hey! Those girls didn’t just give birth to a child!,’ or, ‘they still have as much time to themselves as you did before becoming a mum,’ which kind of breaks the foundation of my comparison, it still messes up my self-confidence. Perhaps due to the fact that we are still ‘fighting’ for the same clients and I thus feel forced to up my game even though my energy is low.  

So what do you do? Other than letting time speak for itself. I imagine that the two personalities will merge over time. You could unfollow all of those who poke at your confidence? But, you know – it’s not really them; it’s me. You could learn to accept the state of things? Or try to reach for the phone and call a friend? Perhaps drink a glass of wine in the sofa rather than going out for one? And wear glitter and sequins anyway? 

I was careful with my makeup today. And then I did something really silly and shallow – I shopped for confidence. YES! Apparently I’m not too old to fall in the old-school, superficial materialistic pot. It’s not at all something that gels with my thoughts on sustainability, but you can’t be a saint all of the time. 

A dress. A top. A pair of trousers. It’s actually also a little bit nice after 15 kg and a pregnancy. It’s better than heading to Thailand, so I told myself, haha! That’s how childish one can be sometimes; ‘everyone else is in Thailand; I wanna go as well!’ ‘Everyone else looks so trendy; I want to look trendy as well!’ But again, we’re trying to boycot the long flights in 2019 so a trip to Ganni is something I can justify to myself. 

Henriette wrote lovingly on instagram that she didn’t know with whom I compared myself, but that she’s definitely rooting for me. That’s the interesting thing about this crazy, flat medium. Women who look like a million or own a million – they go through rough times as well. And only you know who you measure yourself against, and often it’s a bit unrealistic, which leads me to another cliché; comparison is the thief of joy. I do know that. It’s no use striving for something undefined or unachievable as the road will just be intolerable. Be yourself – everyone else is taken. Yes, there’s no shortage of insta quotes. All of it is so true. And I do know that confidence, to me at least, isn’t a constant. It moves up and down, and knowing what the bottom feels like makes it all the better to be on the top. I’ll definitely get there again.

Just like Eddie had to land and I had to land as a mum, I also need to land as me. The full package. Now with an expanded CV.

Rockpaperdresses, Cathrine Widunok Wichmand, Stine Goya yellow coat

Send en besked