September 21, 2016 § 4 Comments

About a month ago now, I returned to my hometown to attend the 30th reunion of my final year in high school. I had been to the 10th reunion, but not the 20th, so it had been a while since I’d seen any of my former schoolmates.

I did solemnly swear that I wouldn’t blog about it, so some of them are sweating bullets right now, but it’s okay. I’m not going to reveal any secrets, nor will I explain exactly how much alcohol was consumed! But it was an interesting experience, once I’d got past the horror of just how old we’re all getting.

So first up, young people, take it from me – you can relax. You’re probably going to turn out okay even if you aren’t so good at Maths. There was a broad cross-section of people there, in all kinds of jobs and professions, and everyone had fashioned a life for themselves and seemed to be coping as well as anyone else does on the journey of adulthood. Even the most awkward of teenagers had turned into really great people.

On the down side, unfortunately, it was glaringly obvious that the divorce rate isn’t just a figure made up to scare you. Thirty years on there were significant numbers of divorced people among us, myself included. And there were several more people on the brink . It saddened me to see that – I think most of us want to believe in happily ever after, and it seems it’s harder and harder to find. So if you have it, don’t take it for granted. Hold on to it and keep working at it – you’re one of the lucky ones.

The biggest revelation for me, though, was just how poorly you can know people that you see every day for five years. I had some surprisingly deep conversations and discovered things about my former peers that I had no inkling of. None whatsoever. Some of those kids had really hard lives; had seen and experienced things no child should ever experience.

It left me with the firm conviction again, that if we teach our children anything, we need to teach them kindness. We need them to understand that you just never know why someone is behaving in a particular way – whether they’re extremely quiet and shy, or angry and combative. They can seem perfectly fine and be dealing with all kinds of fallout at home.

Everyone really is fighting a battle. Maybe not every day, but you’d probably be surprised at what is going on in the homes and hearts of people you meet at school or at work. None of us is immune to difficulties, and very few of us share our travails with others.

The best we can do, therefore, both children and adults, is to treat everyone with kindness and compassion, and hope that they will do the same for us.


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