Cartier Masthead Final Weeks

Monday Moment: Dive In

Emma Grey

One of my favourite Facebook pages is Humans of New York. This week, someone shared a post which contained some beautiful advice:

”There are three things you can do when life sends a wave at you. You can run from it, but then it’s going to catch up and knock you down. You can fall back on your ego and try to stand your ground, but then it’s still going to clobber you. Or you can use it as an opportunity to go deep, and transform yourself to match the circumstances. And that’s how you get through the wave.”

The imagery is powerful. Swimming along safely in the shallows and seeing something overwhelming coming towards you…

Diving deep in response to something hard is scary. It’s counter intuitive.

It’s also the place where we’re least at risk. The place where the force of the wave is felt less than the fierce crashing on the surface. The depths are where we can most easily control our responses, build our muscles and emerge stronger.

Last week I attended a Press Club address by Catherine McGregor, the highest ranking transgendered military officer in the world (and our son’s godparent). Cate described the various responses to her gender transformation including this by cricket commentator, Jim Maxwell: “The motto of my old school is; it is better to be than to seem. I have waited a long time to see someone live that.”

Sometimes it’s only through our deepest transformations, which typically occur during the toughest times in our lives, that we emerge from that wave and can finally, truly, deeply ‘be’.

When asked for her observations on life as a woman Cate explained: “I didn’t realise how much unlike me I had felt… Karen Middleton said a beautiful thing to me that I couldn’t have formulated. She said: Cate is more Cate than Malcolm was ever Malcolm.”

Most of us never have to endure the agony of gender dysphoria or the fear of what will happen if we address it (or worse, don’t address it). But most of us do find ourselves trapped sometimes, in a life that doesn’t feel like our own. A life that isn’t the one we ‘ordered’.

We all have times when we’re not really ‘being’. We’re just ‘seeming’. Seeming happier than we are, more in love, more settled, more on top of our family or our house or our careers.

‘Seeming’ is exhausting. It’s hard work. It’s a compromise. It’s a life ‘half lived’. It means living out of alignment with who we really are. It brings private moments of despair. (I speak from keen experience.)

I remember my first moment of truly ‘being’ after spending a long time ‘seeming’. It happened on the beach at the South Coast.

I watched my children jump in and out of the waves and realised I was genuinely enjoying the moment for the first time in years. It was my moment of not understanding how much ‘not me’ I had felt. For so long.

I felt like I was coming ‘home’. Back to who I really was and who I could be in the future. I’ve never felt more liberated.

Diving deep is a huge thing. It involves a big intake of breath, and some faith that you’ll emerge okay on the other side…

Do it. The alternatives are rubbish.

Image of female swimmer on rock above crashing surf from


Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

  • Ashleigh

    Emma this is beautiful, such a lovely read x

  • Gosh you are amazing Emma Grey!

  • Ms Jennifer

    Emma, beautifully written. I do so like that….”it is better to be, than seem”

  • Lisa

    Lovely read Emma. Thank you. Perfect timing for me today.