I can’t believe how quickly the last 6 months have gone. One day I was a University Lecturer, a Principal one no less, and the next I wasn’t. Just plain old me. I’d always said that I didn’t define myself by my job, or its implied status, and I was right.
That’s not to say that it isn’t an odd feeling at first. The daily commute, the teaching, the admin, interaction with students and colleagues were part of my working life for so long that I thought I might miss them. I certainly don’t miss commuting, meetings, the politics or admin. There is a part of me that misses “watching the light go on” that only educators see when their students suddenly “click”. I do miss talking to certain colleagues as well-it was fun to bounce ideas around and create things. The friendship with some students and some staff was another great bonus.
I went into to teaching because I loved the idea of teaching and found that, by and large, I was good at it but I began to hate the recent drive to be “business focused” whatever that might mean. I believe getting a good education should be free because it is an intrinsically good thing. It might be snobbish but I believe educated people tend to have a better life and career plus they tend to be more humane. I also believe knowledge should be accessible to all and should not be commoditised or sold, but given freely. I detest the concepts of charging for education or knowledge. Given the current climate, I’m glad I quit. I don’t have the vocabulary to describe how much I disliked hearing people who have never run a business, or were unable to do a simple cash-flow prediction, exhort me to generate “external income” or “commercialise” or, Lord help me, “incentivise”.
However, be that as it may, I woke up on my first free day and felt absolutely no regrets about taking the money and running. On the first day of this academic year I woke up, wished my ex-colleagues and students well and went back to sleep for a while. I realised I had truly moved on – I’ve been privileged to work with some great people and teach really nice students who I will always remember with pride but that is in past. I might do a bit of part-time teaching at some stage because I love teaching but I don’t want, or need, the other bull that goes with it.
John Lennon said: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans”. I had planned to be running a lucrative business by now but life threw a spanner in the works so it is only now I can start doing that. I don’t care though-shit happens, you deal with it and crack on. I do know I’m happy, healthy, very solvent and had so many new experiences in the last six months that I feel blessed. I’m involved in writing a musical, been hiking, auditioned for a TV programme, played a few gigs, played a solo spot, taken a few photo jobs, done a course, recorded original music, got a new cat, sojourned in parts of the UK I’ve never seen before, been turned down for a part-time job because I was over-qualified, had my senses tested, cycled over-long distances, led a three-day walk, made new acquaintances, bought things and sold them at a profit, become a reviewer for products and my diary is full for the next three months doing fun stuff. And that is just a small part of what I’ve been doing.
Blessed and/or lucky? Probably both. The other thing I know for sure is I wake up every day thinking “What’s the adventure today?” I used to laugh at retired people who always said they were really busy and wondered how they ever had time to go to work. I’m not retired (yet) but that is how I feel. There is a whole world out there with wonderful things to experience with all our senses. My plan is simple; experience as much as possible, try new things as much as possible, enjoy myself and have fun.