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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Status Anxiety

When I saw this book by Alain de Botton in WHSmith back in December I just had to buy it - it seemed to me that this phrase summed up the mindset I've developed for myself over the past few years. Now, I haven't actually read the book yet (it's on a girthy waiting list), but I won't let this be a barrier to coming up with my own interpretation of what the phrase means to me.

There are some people in my life who never fail to turn me into a ghastly green-eyed creature and I hate myself for being so superficial. They could be (and normally are) richer than me, slimmer than me, posher, cleverer, live in bigger, nicer houses in more desirable locations and, of course, are more "successful" than me, at least by the traditional parameters we use to measure success.

I dread the question "So, what do you do Witho?". Why couldn't I have chosen one of those easy, one-word occupations which command respect? Doctor, teacher, lawyer, artist, writer, singer, actor... Instead of which, I have to devote a whole bloody page to explaining my so-called "trade".

I sometimes get "chippy" and use my social background to explain to myself why I haven't achieved much in my life. Lazy, I know but I went to a comprehensive and I truly believe that they don't imbue you with confidence and self-belief in the same way that a public (private) school does. I went to university with enough public-school-educated students to crystallise this idea.

We spent the weekend with BF's friends (one of whom was *my* friend before I met the BF and is the reason we are together today). The couple who hosted the weekend are both at the top of their respective professions. They live in a beautiful, six bedroom, four-storey Georgian house in Bristol. They are both well-spoken, intelligent, articulate and (dare I say it) posh. They both went to good (private) schools. They are both the same age as me.

Both, then, targets for my envious regard.

Until you discover that the couple who appear to have everything can't, in fact, have the very thing they want, the very thing they've worked damned hard for, built a home for, set down roots for.

The thing that you put off for so long but assume will just fall into place when you're ready.

After five miscarriages, they tried IVF.
It didn't work.

It all depends what you mean by "success".



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