Matthew Munson: We are all works in progress

Matthew and Bryan

I went to a university this weekend – something that I might do again in a few years if my son decides that he wants to try it out himself. But this visit was for me; something I wasn’t entirely expecting to be saying.

I’m interested in going to university, and as my lad gets a bit older and more independent, it’ll be nice to carve out a little bit of the week for some studies. I’ve been agonising over which course to apply for, which is the reason I went to their open day this weekend – there’s nothing quite like asking a lot of questions and being curious. I like the opportunity of exploring my options, and I’m nearly there on making a decision; applications close soon, so I need to get my skates on.

It’s a big and scary decision, going to university whilst also working part-time and also being a full-time dad. That last title – “Dad” – is the most important title I’ll ever have in my entire life; I’m trying to raise a son who is confident in my love for him and in his own strength and values. We’re all works in progress, even as adults, but he is a brilliant human being who I genuinely enjoy spending time with – and long may that continue. So carving out some time for a university course is a very fine balancing act, but I’ve been reassured by the competence and calm manners of the staff I met this weekend, and I’m a great believer in pushing myself out of my comfort zone every once in a while; if I hadn’t been willing to do that, I certainly wouldn’t have every become a father, that much is certain.

So a university degree, alongside everything else I’m doing, is on the cards, and I’m excited. Learning never stops, I tell Bryan on a regular basis, and he certainly embraces that; it’s a joy to see him get pleasure from his dance classes which he does in his own time in the evenings and weekends. He is truly passionate about it, and I am in awe of his natural talent and dedication to the cause; his dance school has a show in a couple of months over in Canterbury, and you’d better believe I’ll be there front and centre. I’m nearly as excited as he is, I think (although I don’t have any of his talent).

Having hobbies that you genuinely care about are really important; I’d hate to do things that don’t interest me, or I do purely out of politeness. I love writing – fiction, of course; non-fiction, such as journalism, is hard, and I’ve never been good at it – and get a buzz out of telling a story or communicating an idea. I do also like blogging, and the best blogs are those that break complex ideas down and discuss them clearly yet intelligently. I can only hope to be in such august company one day.

I am slowly filling up my time with things that are fulfilling; raising a family, learning new things, and being creative. Ten years ago, I had published my first book, but I couldn’t ever have imagined being a dad or going back to university – funny how times change. I went to university when I was eighteen and quickly realised that it wasn’t for me; within three days, my eyes were opened. Why I thought that Film Studies was the right course for me I’m not sure; I was totally out of my interest zone. I genuinely can’t remember what 18-year-old Matthew was thinking when he started that course; now at 41 (42 when I start the course), I’ve matured (at least a bit) and can make some exciting new choices to broaden my mind.

Even better, my son came with me, and I was delighted to share the experience with him. I wanted him to see what a university campus looked like; he may not want to go when he’s 18, but if he does, this is a bit of background knowledge for him. He found it interesting, and he was incredibly grown-up – but, of course, I was totally willing to let him have a bit of screen time when I chatted to some of the tutors. We then got to spend some time in the park and go for dinner afterwards; time with my son is the best time of all.

1 Comment

  1. You might consider the Open University. You study (mostly) at home, and (within reason) at your own pace.

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