I decided to do a lot during Freshers Week here at Durham University. I went to every meal, every pub crawl, every outing, and I met a lot of other first-year postgraduate students. Most of them had recently finished their undergraduate degrees and were just starting their masters, and while I didn’t hide the fact that I was starting a PhD and hadn’t been a student for some time, I think most of them assumed that I was roughly in their age group, simply by virtue of me being there. I forget what the exact conversation was about, but I think I said something about how difficult it was to get visas for my wife and son. One of my new friends got a puzzled expression, looked at me and, after a pause, asked something like, “Sorry, but how old are you?” Then the story came out: I’m 42 years old. I don’t have a master’s degree, and my bachelor’s degree is from 20 years ago. I left my job in the States to begin PhD studies. My wife and I sold our house, our car, and many of our belongings to move to England with our son. And, make no mistake, it was the right thing to do.
I tell this story because, when I look back at the 2023 that was, I recognise that it was easily one of the most eventful and consequential years of my life. I did something—I’m in the midst of doing something, in fact—that most people wouldn’t do, and it’s the kind of thing that is not easily undone. Some people might think I’m brave, and some might think I’m foolish; I prefer to view it pragmatically: Elise and I decided what we wanted to do, we prayed and discerned that it was worth doing, and we did what we had to do to make it happen. Of course we don’t know what will happen next, but honestly, do we ever?
Here’s something that I’ve believed for some time, but I really learned in 2023: It’s never too late to try something new; it’s never too late to change course. If you don’t like what you’re doing, you can change it. Even if you do like what you’re doing—which was the case with me—there’s no reason you have to keep doing it forever. It doesn’t have to involve changing jobs or moving continents, although it did for me. For most people, it may not be nearly as dramatic. In fact, it could be something small and subtle, something most people won’t even notice. Maybe it’s a book you want to write, a skill you want to learn, a good habit you want to build, or a bad habit you want to break. Whatever. But that thing that’s in the back of your mind, that dream you have, the one you keep brushing off and thinking, “No, it’s too late. I’m too [blank], or I’m not [blank] enough, or…” That’s enough from the inner critic, don’t you think? It’s not too late. In fact, it might be the perfect time. Why not try, and find out?
Here’s to a 2024 full of new adventures.
Chris Massa is a US-born musician based in Durham, England. You are on his site right now.
Copyright © Christian David Massa