It’s A Little Funny

Catriona on the cover of "The Dying Kingdom"

Catriona on the cover of “The Dying Kingdom”

I can still remember being a little kid and being introduced to the fantasy genre, almost simultaneously through video games and books. I remember picking up my first truly influential book, Warrior’s Heart, and being so excited by the magical promises it held inside. I remember bringing it to school to show my best friend, and I remember her saying with a crinkled nose that the cover was funny. I didn’t understand–it was a gorgeous cover, with a picture of a teary-eyed, red-haired, sword-bearing warrior who captured my heart and made me wish she was real–but it made me self-conscious. “It is pretty funny,” I agreed reluctantly, but I told her defensively that it was still a good book on the inside. She didn’t really buy it.

It stayed like that for a long time. I fell deeper and deeper in love with magic and adventure, and every time I showed her one of the things that I absolutely adored, she turned up her nose and told me she wasn’t into that kind of thing. I could tell she thought it was weird.

We aren’t friends anymore (the funny thing is that I can remember myself playing Guild Wars when she told me through the internet that she didn’t want to hang out anymore) but I don’t think badly of her. We had different interests, and it was probably good that we went our separate ways. I now have a fantastic group of friends who share my interests and embrace them (and play Dungeons & Dragons with me and actually like it). We’re both quite happy, my former friend and I, and I’m so thankful I never put Warrior’s Heart down just because the cover looked funny.

If I had, I’d never have met Catriona Goodlund.

An old sketch of mine.

An old sketch of mine.

When I was a little girl just new to the fantasy world, I wanted desperately to be a warrior. It’s always been in my soul, a desire to pick up a sword and be strong and fearless. It’s such a deep part of who I am. But as a little girl, well, it’s hard to fit those big warrior shoes. I mean, I was pretty far from strong, and I was really afraid of spiders and swimming lessons (bad, bad memories of the front crawl…. I shudder just to think of it), so I wasn’t exactly fitting my own criteria. Not to mention the fact that I had no access whatsoever to a sword.

All of that, plus the fact that I didn’t like to tell anybody about my dreams. I only ever remember telling two people–my former friend and another best friend who was actually very interested in fantasy, but who lived in another city. Around everyone else except family, I kept pretty quiet. I still usually do, because I’ve realized that a lot of people don’t understand. Specifically, many girls I meet. I remember not that long ago mentioning Guild Wars 2 to a girl in my class. When she asked what that was, I said that it was kind of like World of Warcraft. The look on her face told me everything. She thought it was kind of funny. She thought I was weird.

I realized, as a little girl and now, that girls were supposed to like malls, boy bands, and books about friendship and drama. I was very much exposed to that whilst growing up, and didn’t realize when I was little that it’s actually okay to break those expectations. When I was little, I felt kind of funny because of what I liked.

Thank the heavens for Catriona.

She didn’t exactly meet the expectations either. She had been kicked from the knighthood when she’d been too afraid to stop her aunt from being killed. She fought every day with that guilt and fear looming over her, feeling so often that she’d failed her friends and let them down. Her hands shook when she wielded her sword. Her heart pounded in her chest. She was afraid. And she knew that she didn’t belong with the rest of the world. She’d lost her honour and her respect, and she felt like she was a little funny.

Little girls weren’t supposed to be fearless. They weren’t supposed to dream of fighting battles instead of hanging out with friends. They weren’t supposed to want to be strong. But I’ve been happy all my life. My dreams have filled my soul.

Warriors weren’t supposed to be afraid. They weren’t supposed to fail their friends. They weren’t supposed to be weak. But Catriona is the best female warrior I’ve ever come across. If I could be a warrior, I would want to be like her.

I would want my hands to shake when I held my sword, because truthfully I’m not that fearless.

I would want my heart to pound when faced with danger, because truthfully I’m not that terribly strong.

I would want to be the odd one out, the funny picture on the cover, because in all the years I’ve been in love with fantasy, I’ve realized that breaking the expectations is the only way I could imagine living my life.

Catriona is my hero.

What expectations do you love to break?

May you let yourself be a little bit funny, and never fear walking a different path.

-Alex

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18 thoughts on “It’s A Little Funny

  1. Good for you! Such a great attitude to have.

    You know, when I read about your past friend screwing up her nose, that reminded me of something that happened to me when I was little… I was obsessed with Lord of the Rings (still am), and I remember going into school one day and talking to my friend at the time about the Elven language. She looked at me like I was truly, truly insane, and she even said some quite hurtful things to be honest. It hurts to have someone sneer down on you for what you love, for what captures your heart and soul in a way nothing else does, for what fills your dreams. Just because your mind is enchanted by something most ‘typical’ girls don’t like, that apparently gives them the right to belittle you. Well, I think it takes a certain kind of strength to ignore that, and really, who cares what they have to say anyway? It’s not about what everyone else thinks, it’s about what makes you happy and being who YOU are!

    Sorry, didn’t mean to write an essay, but I thought it was a pretty relevant thing to share!

    • Thank you :)

      Essay or not, I was glad to read your story. I think you’re right, that it takes strength to ignore the hurtful words. I’m thankful that I was a kid when I learned to think for myself, before I learned the concept of self-consciousness, because I was much too naive then to care about others’ opinions. But it’s true, we all deserve to be able to find our own happiness freely and without being insulted for it. And I’m very glad that you never lost your love for Lord of the Rings and fantasy because of what your friend said, ’cause just look at you now! :)

      Thank you for sharing your story and your strength!

      • Indeed. I am also very thankful that I have always been someone unconcerned about what others think (which is just as well, given I was an incredibly weird child! aha) Oohh, I don’t think it would be possible for me to lose my love for fantasy, no matter what anyone said :P As a kid, Lord of the Rings was the first story that stole my heart, mind and soul, and it carried them away to fantasy lands never to return! And I’m quite glad, really: I’d rather be there than in reality. Ha! Yeah, thank you! I showed her ;)

        • I agree–you can’t escape once fantasy has a hold on you, but why would you ever want to? It’s a rewarding life, if you’re willing to stand apart from the crowd every once in a while. It just feels really good to live with passion :)

  2. “The surest way to corrupt youth is to instruct him/her to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

    Don’t pretend that you’re someone else and force yourself to conform. Because once you do, you’d be lying to yourself. The day you decide to lie to yourself, you stop living. Your entire life, your entire existence is now nothing more than a lie.

    • Very profound, and very true. It’s so sad when I hear that people don’t feel comfortable expressing the things they love because they feel like they’re the minority and are afraid of being shunned. I couldn’t imagine ever being ashamed to say that I love watching cartoons, or reading fantasy books, or playing video games. I know that I really would be lying to myself and that’s not okay with me. I wish that everyone could have the courage to express themselves without worrying about how others will view them.

      That was a beautiful response, thank you :)

      • My lecturer from awhile back was a Nietzsche-fan, so some of his golden quotes stuck with me after I graduated. But anyway, I’m very thankful that you stuck true to yourself in-spite of the disparaging remarks/reactions you’ve received. Your stories are awesome – we wouldn’t have those if you’d chosen otherwise!

        • Thank you–it makes me so glad to hear that you think so. I’ve come to realize a lot in recent years that I’ve made a ton of really good decisions that have brought me to where I am now and I couldn’t be happier. People like you keep enforcing that message :)

    • Oh, wow! I’ve never met anyone who actually knows who Catriona is. This is exciting :D

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad (and slightly apologetic–I hope they’re tears of joy!) that you were touched by my post. Lots of love for Catriona <3

      • Yes! I read all of the New Adventures, including the Elidor spinoff trilogy and the Catriona spinoff trilogy. They were, and still remain, some of the most influential books of my entire life. I was so happy to find another Catriona lover, as I’ve never encountered one either. She inspired my tough lady side :)

        • Oh man, those books were the entire reason I ever started writing. I can’t imagine what I’d be doing with my life if I hadn’t read them. I’m trying to collect them now but it’s hard, since they’re so rare. Ah well, it’s like a treasure hunt :)

          Aw yeah, she’s good for that, isn’t she? What I love most about her is that, as strong as she is, she started out afraid and kind of weak. But she did what she had to do till she grew braver. It’s such an inspiring story!

  3. I’m 13 and Catriona is one of my 1# idols. I thought no one even knew about her, but when I found your post it was extremely inspirational! Warrior’s Heart was also my first dragonlance book that I read and it was the same exact cover that caught my eye as well! Sharing your story has made me feel like I’m not that alone and I thank you for that. I now have more strength and courage because of you!

    • That is so awesome! Honestly… hearing you share that is like hearing it from my younger self (not that I’m that much older :P). But I am so, so glad to have inspired you. Hold that strength and courage dear to your heart! You can take on the world with it :) Thanks for leaving a comment–it just goes to show we’re never truly alone in the world, eh? No matter how few Catriona fans there seems to be, they’re out there :D

      P.S.: have you read the rest of the books?

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