Every other Thursday I profile a new incredible woman, each from a different walk of life. Different professions, causes, backgrounds, ethnicities, orientations, and anything/everything else!
So without further delay, let me introduce the awesome Catherine Kustanczy…
Canadian arts and culture journalist, Catherine Kustanczy loves what she does. And what exactly is that? Let’s start with writing, producing, interviewing, and hosting for various established names like CIUT’s morning program, Take 5, Torontoist, blogTO, CBC Unlocked, and CBC Radio, as well as living abroad for two years, working in the film and music industries in Ireland and England. Her blog, Play Anon is a popular combination of cultural insights, personal experiences, and social observations – a few of which she shares here with us as this week’s Shameless Woman.
What drives you to do what you do?
Passion. I absolutely love what I do. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Also, I’m relentlessly curious about everything. An accomplished fellow journalist-friend once said to me of himself, “I’m not the smartest person but I am one of the most curious.” I think that would describe me well too.
How does being a woman empower / challenge you?
In my line of work, being a woman has its advantages and its disadvantages. It really depends on what I’m covering. Walking into one area of the arts, I’ll be met with a vastly different attitude I would in other areas. Sometimes I get nervous and think, ‘Oh God, I’m not pretty/smart/cool/hip/accomplished/rich/connected/etc enough.’ I meet a lot of amazing people in what I do. The key is to just stay secure in what I know and what I am good at. One of my best friends called me a “connector” and that is something that continually empowers me, even in moments when I think I might be losing my resolve. I can connect people, events, experiences, and ideas, in ways others may not see. I think everyone has a unique talent, and connecting (in literal and figurative senses) is probably mine. Valuing that as one of my key strengths is a kind of balm whenever I feel those insecure thoughts coming on.
What advice would you give to young women who want to follow in your footsteps?
Know your worth. Keep your power within yourself; don’t give it away to please others. Understand the value of process, of continual cultivation, of taking time-outs and developing your whole self, not just one aspect of it. Don’t base your worth on anything outside yourself -not your family, your friends, your partner; you don’t need external validation to feel good about your choices. Keep searching. Stay curious. Be grateful for the questions; believe me, there are way more questions than answers in life, and it takes time to appreciate this and be okay with it!
Name one person, place, or thing every young woman should know about?
Pema Chodron. She is a Buddhist nun and author. Her works truly changed my life. Her writing style is very casual and approachable, and she offers many useful insights for modern women.
What is the most important thing we can do in order to change the world?
Understand change comes from within. Changing our thoughts changes everything else. As Bono sang so very long ago, “I can’t change the world, but I can change the world in me.” That’s a very profound thought -he’s adjusted things, presumably, and now look what he’s doing! Sheesh! But there are smaller examples too. Even just noticing our reactions is useful in shaping the world we want to live in; reactions are mainly based on fear, and I really can’t imagine giving that much energy over to it. I’d rather keep it and put it into something useful… like finishing my latest feature! But, yes, notice your thoughts without judgment and see where that goes. Believe me, the world really changes from there, in ways big and small.
Make sure to check out Catherine’s blog, Play Anon at playanon.blogspot.com.