Friday, 4 February 2011

In which I am a fraud

It was an out of the blue text message that I received one recent Sunday evening that got me thinking.

I’m on the prowl for your postal address, it read. Sorry if you’ve told me before. I promise I’ll store it somewhere safe this time!

That, in my experience, is the sort of text or email that people only send before birthdays and Christmases when they realise their address book (/spreadsheet. You know who you are) isn’t up to date. And, in my life, with both those events happening in December, there’s generally only one other reason for it.

“Wedding invitation, do we think?” I said conspiratorially to Best Mate later on.

“Oooh, could be,” she said. “Yikes. Another one.”

If the announcement of a wedding date is forthcoming from the sender of the message, I shall be over the moon. The pair has been together since we were all 15 and getting horribly drunk round the snooker table in her liberal parents’ basement.

But that doesn’t stop my reflex reaction to such announcements being: “Eh?! Really?! That’s a very grown-up thing to be doing. What’s the rush?”

I was exactly the same when I discovered last year that a primary school friend, now living in Mexico with her husband, was expecting Sprog 3. The mere thought of children terrifies me: when faced with a small child, most women coo. My first reaction is to shudder quietly and send up a quick prayer to the Gods of Contraception to keep things working as they have done so far.

Of course, my rather flustered reaction to people’s proclamations that they’re moving successfully through their lives aren’t really rational. Sure, they used to be. Way back when, it was fair enough to raise an eyebrow at the thought of contemporaries tying the knot. But now… Well, it’s not really a surprise: in one’s mid(ish) twenties, wanting to settle down with one’s partner and have a family isn’t really an unreasonable thing to do. After all, biologically speaking, you’re going to be looking down the barrel of the gun sooner rather than later.

Except, for me, getting married and having children are nice things for other people to do.

I don’t feel that I’m anywhere near the stage in my life where I could even contemplate doing it (we’ll leave out the fact there’d need to be someone else around, first, unless I was planning a Helen Archer, which I most certainly am not). I don’t even think too much about the fact there’s a mortgage with my name on it, because the thought leaves me cold.

In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that most days, not only do I not feel capable of parental responsibility, I actually feel like a total fraud. That, somehow, I’ve got this far by masquerading as an adult who’s capable of looking after herself, holding down a job and a house, and managing not to spend her entire paycheck on white mice. Because when I stop to think about it, I’m sure it’s not something I do on a cognisant level.

Which is why I’m happy to don a hat and throw confetti at people I shared a maths lesson with. Just don’t ask me to follow them down the aisle towards planned adulthood any time soon.


nuttycow said...

There's nothing wrong with spreadsheets dammit!

On another note, the feeling of being a fraud is not one which you feel alone. I am constantly in awe at the thought that I haven't lived at home for 10 years, that I have a proper job, that I pay bills and live and work in a different country. One day, maybe I'll wake up and I'll find myself back as the teenager I still feel I am. Scary eh?

soupemes said...

As Nutty has said, I think a lot of people feel exactly the same.

Sometimes as I sign off an email, I catch sight of my job title and think "eh? I left school less than a decade ago, how did I end up here?" Same is true about living on my own. I'm not sure how I managed that. Looking at houses to buy freaks the life out of me.

All topped off, of course, by the fact that my little sister got married last year and is expecting a baby. Now, that is weird!

soupemes said...

(Word notification on the above = cocaine... Can't do that pregnant... Not that I'd do it at all).

Pikz said...

your not a fraud...i feel a fraud in my 4 bedroom house with my grown up job and yet the most exciting thing recently was the fact my friend sent me a adult babygrow. Everyone keeps asking when we are getting married and having kids...most of the time we just go to the pub :) I am now the only one of my friends not married, engaged or with sprogs...but i will do it all my own way xx

Blonde said...

NC: Huh. I didn't realise you were an adresses-on-spreadsheets type too. Duly noted. But I am glad you feel the same. I do wonder quite how I got here. I'm not entirely ok with the fact that I'm not 18 any more...

Soupster: You too?! Oh thank heavens. This is most reassuring. And no - cocaine whilst pregnant is probably not advised by the DoH.

Blonde said...

Pikz - we overlapped! Hurrah! I am not alone. This is clearly a phenomenon. I am cheered.

Politigal said...

Ah I love the smell of spreadsheets in the morning. They make me happy. Unnaturally so. An acquaintance recently sent me a spreadsheet he'd created to solve sudoku, because he knew it would cheer me up.

theperpetualspiral said...

You cannot beat a good spreadsheet, that is an undeniable fact.

I think we all sometimes look at where we are and what we are doing, and think that we never thought we'd be doing that when we were messing about in the back of French at school.

Helen said...

Ditto ditto and ditto. Marriages and kids are lovely for other people but not for me. Not yet. And as for my mortgage, I'm in denial that I have managed to buy a house. If I think about it it makes me break into a cold sweat. Much better to just enjoy sitting on my little sofa and pretending that I'm not responsible for the four walls around me!

Dream in Grey said...

I have no interest in marriage or children and it's not just a not yet thing it's an ever thing. i have never desired either and it rankles that i am still frowned upon for that. you'd think that at (nearly) 33 people would have stopped saying 'you'll change your mind when you meet the right man'

Anyhoo, addresses on spreadsheets, surely that's what gmail contacts is for?

Hamish said...

The real point is that this is VERY good news for us, rather than you.

Lots of posts as you struggle with the "plus one" problem.

Loving it......

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