Matthew Munson: We can all be ambitious for ourselves

Matthew and Bryan

It’s nice to be busy from time to time – from my point of view, because it’s especially nice to then enjoy the down-time afterwards. But I don’t want to be churlish; it’s nice to be busy as well for some new experiences.

Bryan is getting ready for a dance show in a couple of weeks, which he will love; he’s found his passion, and he’s incredibly excited about the entire thing. So am I through reflected glory; I get to watch my son perform and thrive, so how could I not enjoy that?

We got to spend some time this weekend celebrating a friend of mine’s birthday; he’s not one for attention, so I won’t wish him a happy birthday here (Sam). It’s been quite nice to come out of our regular Saturday routine for once in a while and have a bit of fun.

It’s funny how we can be sometimes when pushed to go out of our routine; I like to think I’ve been fairly good at putting in a nice weekly routine for Bryan and me – it took a while to find a routine that worked, was fun, and also comfortable for Bryan. But we’ve been a family now for four years, so it seems to be working (for the moment, at least – let’s see what happens with the teenage years), and it can be easy sometimes to be a bit anxious when you get out of your “comfort zone”.

It took me a couple of minutes to adjust to the fact that our Saturday afternoon would be different to usual; that’s no comment on my friend and his hosting abilities, that’s a comment on how I sometimes need to adjust my own worldview. Thankfully, I adjusted to the change of routine quickly enough and looked forward to celebrating my friend’s birthday. We all like our healthy routines, and often need to be kind to ourselves when we need to adjust.

I work from home, with only very occasional forays into the office, so being suitably social is really necessary. My friendship group is very slowly regrowing after the pandemic (it’s had a big influence on ALL our lives); going to university in September will help me be more sociable in my own way as well, I hope. Bryan is more extroverted compared to my slightly introverted nature; neither of us are wrong, we just have different ways of experiencing the world through our different natures. But I’m in my 40s – 42 now, to be precise – and I’m more comfortable in my own skin.

What that doesn’t mean is that I’m perfect; it means that I’m more willing to recognise my imperfections and accept them for what they are. I get unduly anxious at times, and grumpy at other times (when they mix, that’s a lot of fun, let me tell you), and doubt myself more often than I probably should. Whereas I spent time when I was young trying to pretend they didn’t exist, now I see these bits as parts of myself that I need to tackle and manage and understand – so that they don’t influence or impact my life quite as much.

That said, it’s not always that easy, is it? I try to acknowledge when I get things wrong (and that involves telling my ego to calm down), and also focusing on the things I can do; raising my son as best I can, developing my skills to keep my career on the right track, and just being the sort of person others can trust to be honest and respectful. It’s incredibly hard to manage all of those things, but becoming a father really helped me focus on that kind of improvement; I wanted Bryan to see that I’m determined to be ambitious for myself. I don’t see the point in hiding my strengths and weaknesses – we all have them, after all, and Bryan will continue learning about his own personality as he grows up.

My son is a brilliant human being, and I want him to see that we can all be ambitious for ourselves, and always learn and improve; that leads to a life filled with a lot of interesting experiences, and it’s a life definitely worth living.