I can hardly breathe when she's in the room. I'm overwhelmed with a sense of envy and admiration for this woman.
She is intoxicating, infuriating, complex and yet astonishingly simple. A walking paradox. She is loved - loved so hard, and by so many. Even though I'm the only one who really knows her, where to trace lines of invisible ache, where to find hidden tattoos - I love her and loathe her. I'm compelled by her presence but it's a bad romance - one I need to leave but can't walk away from.
She is I, yet not I.
She is only the projection of the woman I'd like to be; the False Self magnified in perfection. She is just who I imagined I would become instead of who I am. When I see glimpses of her in others; I'm filled with love and contempt at once. She's good, so good. She's less selfish than I am, better and smarter than I am.
People invite her to dinner and are proud to have her in their company. They listen to the words that fall from her lips, longing for one of her smiles or her embrace. They find her wise and life-giving and the work of her hands bring richness and joy to their lives.
She is content with herself, utterly at home in her skin and her own sense of self-assurance invites people into comfort with themselves.
I'm the jealous type – envious of the woman I always wanted to be. Envious of the woman some people think I am. I'm envious because I know the truth. I'm jealous of her because when she is present I am all too aware of my own failings. I am not the best at what I do. I am not selfless in the way she is, I am not as innately good as she is, I am a shadow in comparison to her.
She is phenomenal. Most importantly, she has earned the goodwill of those who admire. I am average. I have not earned it. I know the truth of my failings. I know the difference between my aspirations and my reality.
The True Self.
It's easy to change the projection of ourselves we share with the world. A change of hair colour or clothing style, even the application of a little lipstick here and there – it's a little smoke and mirrors magic we use to sway opinion, to create a little power here and there.
But living well is only found in authenticity. We can only grow what's true, what's grafted to the vine – that which has true life. So despite our best intentions, you can't 'fake it til you make it' when it comes to yourself. You can only embrace the truth and grow from there, no matter how uncomfortable or unpleasant or disappointing it may be.
It is not the end. I am not finished becoming. But my true self is not as I thought I was. I thought I was funnier, smarter, stronger, more desirable and ultimately – I thought I was better than I am. My starting point is not what I thought it was.
I live with jealousy and envy of the woman I thought I would become and wanted to be. In embracing my True Self, I have to let her go but I find she lives on in my imagination day after day. She follows me into conversations and meetings, on adventures and into real life.
That's when I realise – She is the shadow and I am the True Self. I breathe, she does not. She is static only in two dimensions because she is not true, therefore she cannot grow. She is not real nor authentic and so I am the living one.
I turn my envy to anticipation of who this True Self, average woman will become. I have not imagined her yet and therefore I desire to meet her.
Tash McGill wants to change the world by helping people to think differently. Sometimes described as courageous by her friends, she frequently says aloud what no-one else is brave or stupid enough to say. She also finds writing third-person biographies uncomfortable.
Tash McGill's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/tash-mcgill.html