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September 11th 2017
I don't suppose I have more regrets than most. I mean, I'm not a 'je ne regrette rien' kind of person, but I'm not overburdened with regret. This is, perhaps, partly because my understanding of regret - which might stretch slightly beyond its dictionary definition - is that it is wishing that I'd done something differently. So, while I have a reasonable number of disappointments and, I guess, discontentments, I cannot trace them back to a particular decision I would reverse if I could.
Some of the regrets are pretty small, really: a stupid, arrogant thing I said when I was 17; a cruel thing I did when I was about 13. The biggest regret, though - and, in the grand scheme of things, it's still not that big - is that I opted out of doing a masters degree when I was at University.
At the time I considered the choice from several different sides, and came down in favour of the BSc for a number of reasons: I didn't actually need a masters; I wasn't sure of being able to get a first in it; almost all my closest friends would be leaving after three years; and so on. The strange thing is that, even at the time I made that decision - about a dozen years ago - I believed it was right, but knew that there would come a time when I would look back think I'd made the wrong call. What I didn't realise was the importance of this latter consideration.
I still definitely believe that my Maths BSc is the most challenging thing, academically, I have ever done, surpassing the actuarial qualification that came later (despite the fact that the latter is apparently equivalent to a masters). The regrets about the masters certainly don't detract from how proud I am of that. But over the years, I've sometimes wished I had an M to go with the B.
If I'm honest, some of that has been due to vanity, and the thoughts have most often struck me when I've talked to or about others who have got masters degrees. There are notable exceptions - almost certainly including you, if we're friends enough for you to be reading this - and in particular Simon, of whom I'm very proud (I think I might well feel differently if he'd done his qualifications in something mathsy... fortunately my magnanimity was not put to the test in that way). And that's a large part of why I've not enlisted in a masters before: because vanity is not a good reason to do anything, really.
But now, six years after I completed my actuarial qualification, I'm feeling the studying bug come back on. And while I'll not deny that it would be lovely to get the masters qualification I opted out of all those years ago - how often do we get the opportunity to rectify our regrets? - it's the additional desire just to learn maths again that makes me think this is actually worthwhile. I'm not without trepidation, given that I hit my intellectual peak a decade ago and have probably forgotten much of what I once knew, but I'm pretty sure that I'm going to go for it. I'm gonna go for the MSc.
Don't worry, I'm not going to chuck in the job and move onto campus again. The Open University offers an MSc that can be done through distance learning, with six modules that can be taken over a flexible timetable (apparently one module a year is standard, although I'm tentatively thinking of trying to get through everything in four years or less), so that sounds ideal. Having looked at the course, there's the option to go mostly down the pure route without having to pick up too much applied maths, which is even better.
I might be too late for this year - courses start in October, and I'd need to phone up to see if they'd be able to fit me in for the first module - but, even if I have to wait a year, I'm really warming to this idea. So much so that I'm adding it to my '40 by 40' list, at the expense of 'stand for election'. Yes, yes, I know that changing the list after it's been 'finalised' is clearly cheating, but: (i) if I'm gonna do a masters, I'm definitely putting it on the list; (ii) I've realised that the whole election thing was a bit of a whim that has quickly died; and (iii) hey, my list, my rules.

what am I listening to?
Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 - Queen
what am I reading?
A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
what am I watching?
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
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