One Month Later

It’s been one month since I made my last post, which was full of despondency. Understandable. I still feel much of the anguish of that post.

But I am fortunate in that during the last few weeks I have been kept exceptionally busy. Through a combination of a major project, which lasted nearly two weeks, to plenty of small and big jobs for customers, business has been ticking over nicely. Keeping my mind busy with work stops me from sliding into depression, and gives me a real sense of momentum that things are moving in the right direction.

Now upon me is another big decision. In just a few weeks time it will have been a year since I left home. It has been a turbulent year, difficult at first, but steadily improving, yet with much problems still to face up to.

Obviously, living here simply must continue. I would be foolish to pull the plug on this business given that I have no alternatives. At the moment it’s not making me a small fortune, but I’m able to live OK. Ideally I need my income from it to double, but that isn’t going to happen any time soon unless I get projects like the network one I’ve just finished on a regular basis.

The other option would be if somehow I came across a circumstance in which a full-time job was offered to me based on the strength of the work I’ve done. I doubt this would ever happen, but you never know. If something like that came up I’d seriously consider it, despite the obvious benefits of self-employment. There are many down-sides too, such as being unable to “switch off” that would influence such a decision. Not that it’s relevant right now anyway.

But it does come up, as my brain is always looking for what other options my life could take. Plus I keep watching The West Wing and thinking “that’s what I should be doing!” – forgetting, of course, that real life isn’t like that. But still, the temptation of a proper political career is still what I’d secretly like to do. In the back my mind. Not that that will ever happen either…

The decision, having accepted the reality that life is dull, then,  is whether to sign up for another 12 months, or 6. Of course, that can always be extended. But the risk of 12 months is that during that time I will snap and decide I’ve had enough. That was unlikely during the previous 12 months, as I had already accepted that I would give this business a proper 12 month go of it and then if it’s failed then that’s the end of it.

But it hasn’t failed – which is good – so now I must decide whether to commit to a longer period to it. Hmm.

Inertia is easy. It will make me stay here. But in the back of my mind is always those little niggling doubts. Only a few more years left before I won’t be eligible for Australian and New Zealand working holiday visas…

2009

2009 started with either an eerie co-incidence or an example of perfect timing. 

We rushed out into the street, me checking the time on Teletext with just 50 seconds to go. I don’t normally get ready so late, but I had decided to give the pre-midnight part of our usual New Year party a miss… instead choosing to sit with my brothers in the front computer room. It was actually nice to spend some time with them, I don’t normally do that. Anyway…

I looked at the clock, it was too late to synchronise my watch with Teletext, so I took a rough stab at it. At 20 seconds to go, I started the countdown and ran out to join the rest of the family in the street. 

At exactly zero seconds, a firework went off. That was pretty impressive. I think it was a co-incidence, but it was a nice one.

After midnight I joined the party, having a pretty good time. Not everyone was here, but there was enough people to talk to. But there was a surprising degree of very small children making a lot of noise. My cousins and an uncle have had children recently, and by Christ they made a lot of noise. A lot. Some of them are toddlers now, and bringing them all together is a deadly combination. Lots of activity. Too much for me, I wanted a quiet New Year!

Fat chance of that in this family. But it was all over by 3:30am, a much more reasonable time after the terribly late finishes of previous parties. After five hours sleep, I felt pretty good. It’s amazing how little sleep you actually need.

But now to consider the forthcoming year. 2009. It always feels weird writing the New Year, which is why it’s a tradition to name the first post of each new year after the year itself. It gets me used to it. 2009. Bloody hell. Was it really nine years ago when we celebrated the millennium? That’s frightening.

2009 is a make or break year for me. Now a graduate, a graduate with a damn good degree from a damn good department in an average university. I should really be able to do something with that. But, most probably, I won’t. Simply because I don’t want to. It just doesn’t seem the right direction for my life.

But what does? Well, that one has to be answered in the first few months of this year. I simply must either have a job or be properly self-employed by the end of February. That is my deadline and I can’t afford to let it slip. My life is going by and I don’t have any money to live it. That simply has to stop.

In general too, the time going by with me idle is not good either. That would be solved if I got a job, so I’m not too worried about that. But I need to be enjoying my life more anyway. I’m not right now, and that’s extremely sad. We only got one life after all.

But for the first four months of this year, I know I will have to live with the trauma of recent events. Until our injured player is walking around again, the burden of guilt, what ifs and sorrow of seeing someone suffering and being partly responsible, even in just a tiny way, will remain with me. For me, April can’t come soon enough.

That will occur naturally, which is a good thing. Unlike the job search, which needs me to get off my arse and do something about it.

I also feel that I’ve got something big in me this year. Whether that is the self-employment front, or some other thing, I feel the time is right for me to achieve it. Lately, I’ve been thinking seriously about my ambition to run a much larger football team. That would be a good challenge. There is a way I could do it too. Gonna have a think about that.

And in life, I could do with something different. Will I actually have a long term girlfriend this year? Hmm, that’s one I’m really unsure about while I’m living at home. Or maybe I’ll move out for good. Somehow I doubt it at the moment, but I’ve gotta say I’d like that to happen right now. 

For my family, I’d like to be better friends with my brothers. I’ve already started on that. We need to do more stuff together. I see my dad’s family, none of whom hardly ever see or even speak to each other. Maybe once a year for Christmas. It would be a terrible shame if we ended up like that. On a darker note, I’m really not sure what to expect from the rest of my family health wise this year. That’s going to be a constant source of worry.

So there is a lot on the line for me this year. I’m filled with a little foreboding about it. Yet the uncertainty is part of the excitement.

Here goes nothing.

Nothing Ever Happens

… sang Del Amitri many years ago. It is a wonderful song, one of my favourites, but it also is very apt right now, since nothing really is happening at all. The US election is over, and while I am still following events there very closely, it seems anything remotely interesting in my life right now has been drained away.

The only event of note recently was on Sunday when my football team, the one my brother plays for, ground out a very dodgy draw. It was probably one of the most tense and nerve-wracking games of football I’ve ever been to watch, as we took a one goal lead at half-time and managed to weather a huge storm in the second half – both metaphorically and literally as the heavens opened and gale force winds blew against us – to only concede once after the opposition had a huge array of opportunities to win and win handsomely.

Literally, that has been the only thing lately worth writing about. I spend most of my time mulling around here, looking at job sections, occasionally applying but knowing there’s really no point right now. I’m waiting for a Eureka moment, one in which I will finally decide what to do with my useless existence.

It’s not like I’m not trying to think up a way out of this hole. I have called in as many friends as I can, but I’m beginning to discover who my real friends are in this situation. It’s amazing how I can live with or know people for so long and think they’re a good friend, but when times get hard it can be incredibly difficult even to get a reply out of people.

And in other circumstances, the opportunity for action has passed. I thought I might genuinely have a chance to get a business started up with a friend… so I e-mailed him to see if he would be interested. He said yes, but he had to delay the decision until he had pending job interview. The interview arrives, he e-mails me and tells me it was a disaster. So we start to plan.

Next day, he’s got the job, and all bets are off. Talk about bad timing. If only I’d considered this a few weeks earlier he might not have applied, and things could be very different.

The daft thing is that right now, with my terrible job prospects, I am seriously considering if I could go to the USA next year and do the camp counselling thing again. But that really would be a desperate situation, because it would pretty much mean that I could start a full time job in the meantime, because I would have to quit come next summer.

So I’m delaying that one for a little while, though the window of opportunity is only open until mid-December. That’s not good, not with the way the days seem to just fly by and I take so long to make up my mind anyway.

My head is wracked with worry right now. I just haven’t got a clue what to do. There are lots of options, but each one I take probably closes almost all the other doors. For instance, if I went to the USA, it effectively means that I won’t have a proper job until next September. That’s too long.

And it’s getting so bad that the first seeds of doubt about dropping out of teacher training are starting to appear. That’s not good at all.

Hmm. Considering nothing has happened, I still managed to write an awful lot about it…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Just for a brief moment (!) I am going to indulge in a little melancholy. It used to be the order of the day around here, but in recent years I’ve got a little better at managing my emotions. However, due to the current situation of my life, I feel the time is right for a bit more analysis.

In life, there are people who do things. They achieve a lot by being the people who put the practical steps into action.

Unfortunately, I am not a Do-er.

There is another group of people: Thinkers. A Thinker is useful in other respects. Do-ers often need Thinkers in order for them to have something to do in the first place. There are very few people who are skilled in both disciplines. Such incredible people deserve a lot of respect.

The problem is, however, that Thinkers get very little credit in life. Yes, the brainboxes like to trade Plato quotes, or out Marx each other, but in the end, Average Man or Woman on the Street tends to be a little less cerebral than that. He or She likes to know the answer to the question: “What difference will it make?”.

Thinkers like to pretend that they know what difference their ideas will make. They spend all their time analysing situations, producing hypothetical scenarios and urging action. But Thinkers aren’t infallible. And when they make a mistake with their projections, we get the usual response from Average Man or Woman on the Street: “You don’t know the first thing about real life”.

We denigrate Thinkers. We see them as lazy people who couldn’t be arsed getting off their own backsides and putting in the hours at the coalface; instead they get other people to do the work for them. Consequently, we love the hard workers, toiling day and night for little reward to deliver the undeliverable. It is never a problem of implementation. It is always the idea that’s wrong.

I’m not sure if I’m a Thinker. Not yet. I can be if I put my mind to it, but no one is going to hire a Thinker from university. You have to earn your thinking stripes, for what that’s worth in the light of the above.

There are other people too. There are Actors (who neither think, nor do, but manage to convince people that they do do)… there are Connectors (who bring together the Thinkers and the Do-ers, who grease the wheels of social interaction). And, of course, the Apathetic and Fatalistic – who either don’t care, or are happy with accepting that “it wasn’t meant to be”.

And then there are Regulators. These are people who neither think nor do (in a meaningful sense), but instead try to make sure the Do-ers come into line with the Thinkers. They also, generally speaking, like to make sure there is a level playing field for all concerned. They are interested in fair play, and the rules of the game.

Nobody likes Regulators. The Thinkers find them as lightweights. The Do-ers find them as repressors. They stunt intellectual curiosity. They limit free thought. They stop people just getting on with the job.

Nobody dares to recognise their important role. If there are no rules, and nobody enforcing them, then we have anarchy. Yeah yeah – we all love anarchy, of course. Until we suffer it. Until we see the impact unfair practice has. Then we all call for rules and regulation quicker than you can say “class action lawsuit”.

But still the Regulator’s role is a thankless one. If all is going well, no one cares for rules as they are not needed. If all is going wrong, no one cares for rules because they stop creative solutions.

My worry is that, in my life, I am falling into this job. Much as it’s an important one, it’s not going to allow me to leave a mark on history. It’s not going to give me a chance of inspiring future generations. Nobody remembers a tax inspector. Everyone remembers a doctor, nurse, teacher, sports person…

Somehow, I have to change this. I have to, at the very least, move beyond being a mere Regulator. I have to become a Do-er. I have to contribute something. What that is, I don’t know. And why going out there and doing stuff makes me nervous I don’t know. I wish it didn’t.

Where next in life? I haven’t the foggiest idea.

Awaiting The Perfect Offer

At this moment in time, I suspect I’ve got it all wrong.

I am thinking carefully about the future. A future that should be bright and full of promise. But my problem is that I want to do everything. I want to keep my fingers in all the pies so I can keep every aspect of my personality going.

That’s just never going to happen. There are so many different fields which I could turn my administrative capabilities to. I don’t have to go into politics in order to be political. I could be political in any organisation in the world if I get the right job.

For instance, from left field is the idea that a) I love cricket; so b) why shouldn’t I look for a job in this area? Administering cricket teams, then onwards and upwards into the ECB. But that’s just crazy. I’m not remotely involved in cricket and so don’t know where to start. I wish I was playing it though. But now it’s far too late for me to be any use in that.

See – this is what I’m up against. A scattergun approach to my future. I don’t know where I’m going. But I could quite legitimately bring up any angle of the things I like and see what the possibilities are.

I struggle to let go – that’s the major problem. I want to do everything, yet I can’t. There is no job in the world that incorporates politics, music, cricket, football, other sports, drama, thinking strategically, thinking analytically and is mostly based away from a computer. There is no perfect offer on the cards. Ever. I think that’s probably why I got interested in teaching in the first place, because it does keep almost every door open for the things I like. But at the same time, it would be extremely superficial. A couple of hours playing cricket a year with the children. Not exactly much to write home about.

What I need to do is just pick one thing. Because, as I know full well, when I get down to work, and concentrate on using my time properly, I will enjoy it and forget everything else. It happened yesterday. I was exceptionally bored, doing nothing all day except musing about the future. But in the evening I was going to be involved in the football training of my football club, which is finally starting up again as the new season approaches.

It gave me something to do. It gave me a purpose. A purpose doing something I actually wanted to do. The time flew by, and I didn’t consider what might have been and what I was missing out on when I could have been playing badminton, playing cricket, running a cricket team, going swimming, going for a run, playing the guitar, writing music and all the multitude of other guilt trips that I put my brain through on a regular basis.

The day is fast approaching when I will learn to accept that I have to just get on with it. Decide and progress with life. That doesn’t preclude continued reflection, and I can always change. It still won’t be too late. There’s nothing particularly final about any choice I make right now. Just as long as I make a choice – and that will finally give me some experiences that I can use to fully inform my life.

I have an idea where I want to go, but it’s not solid enough because I don’t have enough experience. I have to resolve that situation very soon.

Post-Birthday Blues

I’ve spent a very long time lately trying to work everything out. It seems that everything has come together at just the right moment to make me shake myself up.

First, there was the First. That was unexpected. I have been meaning to write a post for some time now about child prodigies and intelligence in young people. If I had this would all make more sense now, but I will come back to it at a later date.

Suffice it to say that the First has made me think I am reasonably clever after all. I’ve spent many years thinking I’d gone backward and others have caught up with me. It’s probably true to some extent, but I’m still smarter than the average bear. And modest too…

Then there has been my birthday. I’ve suddenly realised that I am actually quite old to be still doing bugger all with my life. Nothing concrete anyway. Most 23 year olds have started work by now. This has made things very complicated for me. I am sick of living off my parents’ back. I want to be of independent means at long last. I got used to it while not living here as a student… but the difference there was that I wasn’t earning the money myself. Mr and Mrs Taxpayer were handing it to me in loans and grants.

Having a taste of that, I want to go further. Plus, I see the sacrifices my mum and dad have made for me. I don’t want to keep asking that of them. I want to give them something back.

I can’t do that while I’m poor. And it’s highly unlikely I’d ever be able to do that as a teacher, either. It’s not a well paid profession unless you become a headteacher. And then you have to put up with government targets, league tables, assessments and inspections in a massively high pressured environment. And then after all that you don’t get to teach any more, which is what most people ostensibly go into the profession for. Not much of a reward, is it.

Suffice it to say that in the past few days I’ve become quite sceptical of the idea of becoming a teacher. This is quite a radical turnaround.

So I’m getting older. I’ve got less time to make a go of life. But I have the tools to do it now. I don’t necessarily need to spend another year doing the teacher training. I really should only do that if I definitely want to be teacher. I had originally thought that it would be good to do it even if I don’t become a teacher, because that way I keep the door open. But after all this time, it might not be sensible for the reasons above. It may not be my life’s ambition after all.

It gets worse when I consider the best plan for leaving this country, if ever I chose to do that. But then it means me making a career choice with emigration in mind. I could probably turn my hand to most things, though… which means that if I want to leave I should choose the career that is the most in demand. Teachers are always in demand. But it’s very difficult to transfer knowledge of one country’s curriculum to another country.

This is serious reflection time. My thoughts on this are all still very muddled. I don’t think I’m quite in a “blues” situation… but I will be if I can’t turn all of this into a logical plan which will stand up to scrutiny. I just know for certain that for a multitide of reasons, not least being fed up with feeling like a drifting, aimless student all the time, I want to reject teaching.

Will it stretch me enough? I don’t know.

I need to get some answers and quick.

23

And so, another year, another birthday. At the ripe old age of 23 now, I am beginning to feel just a little concerned that I am ageing and noticeably so. I look back at old photos of me, even from a couple of years ago, and it is clear that there’s just a certain something different in the way I look now. I can’t quite put my finger on it… is it the eyes? Not so bright now. Has my hairline receded? If it has, it may be a millimetre, no more.

There appears to be more lines on my cheeks when I smile. And my face seems to have a bit more of a drawn-in look. Maybe it’s because I’m comparing myself to a time when I had four kilograms of extra weight. Maybe if I put that back on it would go onto my face and I would look a little healthier again.

But in any event, I am undoubtedly older. The problem I have is that I don’t want to be reminded of this fact any more. So my birthday is now a very, very low-key affair. Yesterday was little more than a mere handful of useful presents (socks, razor blades) and a couple of nice things, like a DVD or two and a book. And then we went out for a pub meal. Nice but dull. And that’s how it’s going to stay.

This is a good moment to reflect on the year gone by. And what is impressive is that I even have my own benchmark to compare against. This time last year I wrote this post which said that I wanted to achieve the following six things during my 22nd year of life:

a) Graduate successfully
b) Apply and get accepted for PGCE
c) Investigate Student Associates. Again
d) Referee course?
e) Plan something for next summer
f) Have fun

A was a roaring success, moreso than I thought it would be. B was also a success. C was a failure, but not one I’m not overly disappointed about. D was also a success. E was a failure, because this summer is a disaster. F? Hmm. I would say on balance that I didn’t succeed in that, partly because of the unforeseen results of poor housemate choice. But there was enough fun to make it liveable.

So with three successes, one of them a massive one, two failures, one of which I’m not bothered about and a separate so-so, I would say that I’ve had a Very Good Year. This is in contrast to last year’s Good Year (though I didn’t have any benchmarks to compare against). Does this mean things are on the up?

It’s very hard to be sure. In the past few days I have become extremely concerned that I’m doing the wrong thing. I absolutely love working with children, but I am wondering if being a teacher is the right way to express it. Could there be another avenue to do it in? I have always preferred being a friend and mentor to children, something which is not particularly compatible with being a teacher.

All of this is very inconvenient considering that I’m about to start a PGCE course. So it is with this current state of flux in mind that I am not giving myself an ambitious target regarding this…

Here is what I would like to achieve this year

(1) a) Complete the PGCE course successfully
OR b) Begin an alternative worthwhile career that will allow me to work with children
OR c) Begin an alternative career with enough free time to work with children as a hobby
OR d) Begin some other form of professional qualification
(2) Get fitter, either through refereeing or taking up a sport
(3) Try to do more with my nephew
(4) Make a serious assessment of life plans, especially considering options to emigrate if it makes sense
(5) Take up a new hobby OR enhance a current hobby (e.g. piano lessons)
(6) Earn some money, somehow!
(7) As always, have fun

In other words, this is quite a serious year on the cards. It’s make your mind up time, dude.

Off we go…