Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Do the shuffle... Do do do do do duh-doo do do...

I wanted to go mountain biking this weekend. I can’t. I wanted to go on holiday in October. I can’t. My other half and I were talking of starting a family this year. We had to change our minds. All of this is the result of my studies. Should it be? Life can only accommodate so many things and there are only so many hours in a day and sadly that will never change so certain things have to be kept at the top of the pile and some things inevitably get shuffled further and further down, don’t they?

I love baking, and I love knitting, and I love dressmaking, and I love reading, and I LOVE mountain biking, and I love walking, and I love making presents for people. I love doing far too many things I just don’t get time to do at the minute. This sort of infuriates me though, you only get a finite amount of time in which to live your life so is it actually worth sacrificing fun things you really enjoy so that you have more time for studying (which might not be construed as fun by some...)? What if you end up running out of time to do those fun things? It could be argued that people who study with the Open Uni are a different breed; they’re studying because they WANT to be, they’re volunteering up their spare time for the purpose of studying anyway so they’ve got no right to grumble about having to make sacrifices have they?

People keep telling me that I’m making this journey for the greater good. I’m striving to ‘better myself’. But what if I’m aiming for the wrong kind of bettering? What if the kind of bettering I’m striving for makes me miserable and the kind I should be aiming for is the kind which makes my life richer by way of the fun and enjoyable experiences I have? Ooh well this is a minefield, what’s classed as fun? What’s classed as enjoyable? What’s classed as NOT fun and NOT enjoyable?... I suspect I’m of the boring variety of person because I actually do find it enjoyable going to committee meetings and lectures and visualising myself on my final graduation day in my floppy cap and ridiculously big gown. That’s not for everyone though and of course I appreciate that. I had a conversation with someone yesterday who came out with the old gem “how do you find the time, I just couldn’t motivate myself to do it”. Well matey, if it was something you really wanted to do/achieve then motivation comes hand-in-hand and you just make the time to do it. I still find time to go to gigs/theatre/cinema/restaurants etc, it’s just a case of prioritising different things at appropriate times.

Am I so sure I’m doing the right thing with the sacrifices I’m making though? Putting off starting a family until I finish my journey, when I’m currently 30 and my other half is almost 40 would be considered by many people as careless or selfish. I mean by the time I get to the end of my journey then according to some folks my 37 year old eggs will be all shrivelled up and my biological clock will only be capable of telling the right time twice a day. On the plus side though if we do start a family late we’ll be able to utilise some time-saving routines. For example my other half can collect his pension on his way to pick the kid(s) up from school. Voila – kill two birds with one stone etc. I doubt it will be quite that bad, and apologies to my better half for mocking his age, he’s still far fitter and healthier than I am and he’s only 9.5 years older than me. Neither of us has a burning desire to have a family beyond furry four-legged friends anyway so who knows, we might just skip that bit altogether.

And on reflection the sacrifices I’ve had to make so far won’t exactly damage my life irreparably anyway; so what if I can’t go mountain biking this weekend; once I’ve finished my TMA and before I start work towards the next one I’ll go mountain biking then, and have TWICE as much fun because I’ll have earned the time to ride and won’t feel guilty that I should be studying. And so what if I can’t go on holiday in October, we’ve talked about it and decided to start saving now towards a SUPER-DUPER-NO-EXPENSE-SPARED holiday to Iceland NEXT October by which point I’ll have completed my first degree and we can use the holiday as a celebration of my having completed stage one of my (immensely long!) journey. So the sacrifices I appear to be making aren’t really sacrifices at all. They’re just logical shuffles to allow me to fit in everything I want to do in a sensible order.


  1. Hmmm !!!
    Methinks the term BO*LOCKS can be forced into play here....
    Life is the course you choose. It shouldn't be steered by current trends, family, pets, cycling, knitting(!!) etc.
    It's YOUR life. If education/knowledge is the driving force then DO IT. No-one, least of all Ma and I (oops, cat outa the bag there!!) will dispute ANY decision you make. you are YOU.
    Do what you wanna do, not what you're expected to do.

    And BTW, thanks for the plug, (albeit diversified) to your Dads FAVOURITE musical interlude (Do the Hustle, Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony). What a 70's saddo!!!!

  2. Life is the course I choose?

    So my life is AA308 mixed with DD305? *baffled*

    Oh you meant general path or trajectory, not education imparted in a series of lessons or meetings... Gotcha.

  3. I have struggled with this for 10 years and don't have any answers I'm afraid. With things like bank holiday weekends there are the inevitable discussions with co-workers, they are "restoring a classic car" or "taking a long weekend in the west country" or whatever and I have to admit I am writing up specifications for the doSomething() method and constructing a sequence diagram for the walkthrough in UML... (I'm studying computing and design but already have a BA(Hons) and MSc!)

    For me it's the perception by other people though - I've continued studying rather than restoring classic cars, having a family etc as it's a 'distinguishing feature', not to mention allegedly making us more employable (though not seen any evidence of this myself on the big picture). So when a course finishes I am straight on to the next! and it's been 120 points a year other than a couple of "glitches" ("oh, why aren't you doing full time study any more?" "don't worry, I will be again in Feb, the scheduling is what it is") and working full time!

    With holidays etc to treat yourself after finishing a degree it sounds good to get a break, I didn't do this and would suggest you do, as I am now old and bitter and no hope of change at the grand old age of late 20s. Don't be like that!