I thought I might look at what has happened more personally in 2016. It has not been an awful year by any means, dare I write a positive sounding post? I suppose I could try.
I have now at last completed my degree, which hangs aside my wife’s on the wall. I started a year before her but took a break meaning that although we studied different subjects, we both graduated together which made it all the more rewarding. With myself being a History and Philosophy nerd, and the indomitable her being a literature supremo there was surprisingly plenty of overlap but the courses were in the end very different. The sense of accomplishment is still massive in each case, but so is the sense of loss and identity. After years of part-time study to fit around work, family, moving from Surrey to cardiff and the occasion bit of miscellaneous life occurring, it is easy to see why there is a feeling of loss when coming to the end of it. Importantly it feels like a loss of self, a big part of my identity (student) has fallen away to reveal a new identity (graduate) and that takes a bit of time to get used to, even when you have been the much snorted at “mature student”. I am possibly the least mature mature student you will meet (unless you meet her in the harry potter scarf drinking a hot chocolate in Starbucks). Am I now a mature graduate?
My family moves along swimmingly, my daughter is progressing well from loud small thing to a loud slightly larger thing but with each awkward sentence she spills she seems more like a grown up every day. We have always been brutally honest with her to be fair, and she has learned the difference between how you behave in different social situations very well, fortunately. With the Christmas period recently behind us, I have watched with satisfaction how this seven-year-old has grinned and nodded along to adults around her talking about father Christmas as if he was a trusted friend, knowing that I could not convince her he was real even if I tried. She is the most critical child and wants evidence for everything. This may in part come from the many hours spent exploring museums, digging up fossils and reading articles together on Wikipedia that she has already enjoyed. She swears too. You won’t hear it, she is careful not to do so in front of anyone who may be offended but she also knows that the words used properly are as entitled to be used as any other. This is just one of the many many ways I am proud of her and her critical thinking. she is enthralled by science and fact, more so than other children I have known at that age, but still makes time for play and making a mess.
My wife has had an interesting year attempting to explain to people what it means that she is bisexual, again this has been prompted by explaining to our daughter the method and means by which we pair up as adults, and that it’s not always as straightforward as boy meets girl. With the conclusion that she already had a sound idea of what it was to be Gay, my daughter was then educated on the idea that it’s not even as clear as that for some. My wife is bisexual but assures me this is merely an academic feature of her personality as we have been married for almost 8 years and there is no forecast that brings change to this, but none the less discussing this openly with other people does inevitably invite stupid questions (and good ones too). I see it as just another ingredient in the recipe that creates the woman I fell in love with.
At work there has been a lot of change around me but my core role has stayed much the same. It’s a working environment that never fails to bring new tests and rewards, and overall I remain happy with what I am doing. although it does not always seem like it, it is a role to awards my academic need to puzzles, my want for a win and at the end of the day is designed to provide help to others. It would certainly be more rewarding to cure a disease or build a school in a place where schools don’t exist, but in its way my work is rewarding, it is comfortable and I spend my time with a group of adults who I respect and enjoy the company of, which has not always been the case and I am sure it is not for everyone.
My health has been an issue for me for many years, although a lot of people close to me may not know this. I have a long term illness which over the last year I have been more public about and talked about more because it is getting better. Its an unglamorous physical illness which limits life in may ways, in particular, it can make it very hard to exercise and be physical on a regular basis which leads to its own problems, but in 2016 this has improved enough that I am now considering ways to get into an exercise that might help.