Matthew Munson: Adulthood is a journey not a destination

Matthew and Bryan

Folk Week is over now – was it good for you? Did you throw yourself into the ambience of Morris dancers, bells, and sticks? I only dabbled, if I’m honest; Bryan and I went down to the procession Saturday last week, and popped down again this Friday just gone – more to have a wander, see what was going on, and have lunch at Ed’s Café.

I don’t dislike Folk Week – indeed, I’d quite like to volunteer one year, just to see what it’s like from the other side of the divide – but I’m probably in a funny “inbetween” stage; I worked for a large part of this week, so couldn’t get to visit a lot of it, and in the evenings, I just wanted to spend a bit of time with my son, after he’d been either with his grandparents or at holiday camp. Some years capture me more than others, and I know there’ll be many more years that will definitely pique my interest.

This week, of course, A-Level results came out. I was reminded of my own results day 24 years ago; I’d gone to the Sixth Form at Dane Court, as my high school didn’t have a sixth form at the time; it was a lovely school, with some brilliant teachers, but I struggled to make very many friends. I was rather socially awkward, which didn’t help, and there were some genuinely nice people there – thank heavens (one fellow student went on to have children of her own in adulthood, and our respective sons are in the same form at school – what are the chances?).

I’d studied sociology, English literature, and media studies, all of which I’d genuinely enjoyed; I remember being consistently estimated a C in sociology, as I sometimes struggled with working out how to structure essays … but something obviously clicked, as when I walked into the Sixth Form centre on results day, my sociology teacher walked past me with a broad smile on his face, which made me think I’d done a little better. It turned out I’d got an A in the subject, which is testament to the patient teaching I’d received.

I’d decided that I wanted to go to university after my A-Levels which, in retrospect, was a mistake. I wasn’t ready for it, jumping from a small-ish school of a few hundred students to a university of quite a few thousand; I was a small fish in a vast sea of learning, and I was quickly overwhelmed. I don’t know either why I chose Film Studies as my degree; it wasn’t the career I wanted afterwards. Nothing about it made much sense, I realise now, but you learn by doing, I guess.

People will have had their university choices confirmed or rejected this week (more of the former, I hope), and it makes me appreciate that I’ve not had to go through that process; my A-Levels from 20+ years ago, and my work experience since, secured me a place some time ago, and I’ve been acutely aware this week of the emotional highs and lows that people must be going through as they gain a place – and, in some cases, make a decision about where they’ll be living, often in unfamiliar parts of the country. All credit to them; I’m not sure I could do a big move like that without a lot of trepidation and nerves – and I’m two decades older than most of the students going this September.

Setting a good example to my own son is so important. Whether he goes to university or not is a decision for him in years to come, but I want him to see that learning doesn’t stop when you’re 18 or 21 – I want him to learn from my mistakes and see that adulthood is a journey, not a destination. There are a lot of opportunities ahead for both of us, and I’m excited for us.


  1. Yes,saw you and Bryan on Friday at folk week.Folk week is art without the faff we sometimes see criticized in this newspaper by the woke warriors.
    As for university,the OU might have suited you better.Going to ‘Uni’is as much a life experience,as it is for academic is not a preparation for the world of work as some seem to wish for,as apprenticeships are much better on that basis.
    I think we should recognise Jenny Lee and Harold Wilson for being visionaries in supporting the formation of the OU in the 1960’s.So many that were cast aside by the two tier education apartheid of the time, fulfilled their potential thanks to the OU.

    • I would endorse George’s comments about the OU.
      After leaving school with a small handful of GCSEs, I eventually achieved a B.Sc (Hons) with the OU.
      Among the advantages are the ability to work (within reason) at your own pace, and you do it at home!
      Good luck with your studies.

  2. Holy Cross did have a sixth form as I went there and in same year as you. However, dont blame you going else where it was rubbish. Good to see you doing what you enjoy x

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