An Imposter and the Mountains

I’m currently sat in business class on a flight heading to Athens where I’ll be attending WordCamp Europe in a couple of days. We’re directly above the Swiss Alps and while I eat my complimentary breakfast and sip my fancy coffee I’m struck by the raw beauty of the landscape below; seemingly perfect undisturbed snow coating jagged rock that reaches as high as the clouds.

I mention this ridiculous unfiltered privilege in stark contrast to an old blog entry of mine that I happened upon recently. A post from soon after Oliver was born back in 2012, when I was trying to launch a freelance business on fuck-all savings and the pittance that is maternity pay in the UK. A post in which I boasted about money-saving techniques like getting rid of the TV, watering down the milk and orange juice, and using fourth, fifth, sixth-owner nappies to make what little money I had go further.

I read back that post and found it deeply upsetting. I was so proud of myself for my scrappy ingenuity but never stopped to ask why it was necessary. Why was I having to make so many sacrifices to support my young family in the face of nothing but opposition from those closest to me? It’s not a huge stretch to read between the lines and see my internal screaming at the enforced frugality, that’s for sure.

Anyway, back to business class. I’m sat here, feeling like an imposter, wondering how the fuck I got here, what choices I made to bring me to this point. I wonder if 26 year old Jem ever thinks about flying, let alone flying like this. I wonder about the air stewardess and what she thinks of someone like ‘me’ up front – if my face tells the story of poverty and bootstraps and all that bullshit?

My gratitude for the support I’m surrounded with now is unquestionable. I wouldn’t be sat waffling on about privilege without my husband, my children, my friends and lovers, and the family I choose to keep close. Who else would support crazy business decisions and even crazier goals and the never-ending chase for something more, something new, something bigger?

So I look out of my window, heart full of this love, and I take in the snow-capped mountains below. Now all that’s left is to wonder is… will I ever feel like I’m supposed to be here, or will I always wonder if there’s been some kind of mistake?

1 Comment

  1. I like this post.

    I don’t think that the repeating feelings of surprise that one is entitled to be in a certain situation ever go away. I often question how I got to be where I am: self-employed and successful and in a comfortable financial situation and and in a wonderful marriage and living in a beautiful place. The answer is always: through determination and hard work and thanks to the help and support of others. Luck often plays a part in such things, as do decisions made which later turn out to be wrong but which end up working out for the best in the long run anyway.

    As long as one enjoys it and recognises the fortune which has led to this point, I don’t think there’s anything wrong in sitting back and accepting it all.

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