I’m a university student. That still feels strange to say, but it’s become a fact of life now. I’m 42, and I’ve gone back to school – that was a big hurdle to overcome, just starting the damn course.
But now I’m there and it’s a big change; there’s work at home to consider already, and ideas being shared that intrigue me, but I welcome both of those things. I like my opinions to be challenged from time to time. I might not change my view as a result of the challenge (although I might) but being challenged helps you marshal your own view and arguments.
I reflect on my early adulthood, when I last attempted university. When I was 18, I for one wasn’t mature enough to cope with the change to university. There was a big cultural shift moving from sixth form to adult studying that was too big a leap for me then. I can look back and see that now, but it took me a while to work it out. We all grow up … aha, grow up. Well, most of us do; we’ve undoubtedly all met the odd person here or there who’s not quite managed it.
That said, have I grown into a fully-rounded, absolutely perfect, divine being? Of course I haven’t – and if you ever meet anyone who says they have, tell them to have a word with themselves. Studying over the next six years, where I’ll meet new ideas and new people, my mind will broaden and my creativity will be encouraged. I might even learn the inner workings of a semi-colon, something which does – from time to time – elude me.
One thing I was pleased to see was the variety of ages in the university. There are a lot of mature students on the campus, and a couple in my class. But there’s a lot of acceptance of students as they are. I’ve not encountered any issues with my age, nor has anyone reacted to sharing their class with someone 20+ years older than them. That’s nice. It’s just a nice feeling, being in a place where you’re all on the same wavelength and just intent on learning the same things.
I do have to work as well as study, and I’m the sort of person to plan everything as much as possible. Fitting in 22 hours of work alongside my studies – two classes until Christmas, and one class in the new year, and then rinse and repeat every year – requires me to be organised, so I have planned my working calendar for the rest of the year. That also allows me to be present for my son. He is, as you might imagine, the light of my life. He’s 12 and doesn’t always need my continuous attention every second of every day, but he still deserves my time and my love, so time set aside for him is non-negotiable. It might mean that I can’t write quite as much as I would do some days, but that’s fine, because I’ll have spent time with my nearly-teenage son.
I’m glad I’ve done this – going back to education. It’s the right thing for me to do. I’ve already felt inspired with some new story ideas, and meeting fellow writers is lovely. It’s been nice to hear from my lecturers that there’s no genre off the table. I’m a science-fiction and fantasy fan, and I’ve known people to be dismissive of it. But in my lessons, there’s an acceptance of all genres, and that’s felt right. It doesn’t mean that I’ll want to write everything in those two genres, but it gives me licence to be more comfortable in myself when I write in a style that I want to write in.
I have some homework to do for my lessons (hark at me – I’ve got homework!), which hopefully won’t be too taxing, but it’s a small piece of writing that will be something of a challenge. Bryan is sat quietly not too far away, doing some Spanish revision, and it marks a nice afternoon. Exit, stage left, with 50% fewer semi colons.