Fitting in with the popular girls
Remember high school and how important it was to be popular? I do. Because of a desire to become popular, I learned kindness the hard way… by being unkind.
Every day at lunch, a group of popular girls would sit together at a table. Even though I wasn’t considered popular, one day I ended up at this table. I was thrilled, and so eager to please that I pretended to be someone I wasn’t.
On that day, our conversation was about a new girl in school. Most of the girls weren’t speaking very kindly about her. She was in one of my classes and I thought she was very nice, but wasn’t about to speak up on her behalf, and heaven forbid, STAND OUT from the group. Instead, I made a BIG mistake. I made fun of her too.
Then it happened. As I stood up to take my empty tray to the kitchen, I realized she was sitting right behind us. Our eyes met, and I will never forget her expression – the horror, shame, hurt, and anger – all there, naked for me to see.
For a second I was frozen, unable to break eye contact. She did it for me. She turned and walked away, leaving me standing in my own pool of shame.
Living with regrets…
Later, I realized this could easily happen to me, and probably had – I just didn’t know it. We weren’t that different from each other. Like me, she was shy, uncertain, and trying desperately to fit in. She didn’t need to be made fun of; she needed someone to reach out and offer kindness. How difficult could that be?
I deeply regretted my unkindness. I wish I could say that I turned everything around, apologized, and became fast friends with her. That didn’t happen. I don’t remember her name, but DO remember what I did. Life lessons don’t always result in happy endings.
On the other hand, because of my experience I became AWARE of the damage unkindness can do. Now I make the extra effort to reach out and offer kindness. I learned this lesson well, and I thank her for that. If the Universe is kind, what I write here will somehow serve as a much belated apology.
The poet, Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I keep this quote close to my heart.
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What life lessons have you learned?
I welcome you to share your life lessons: the ones you learned the hard way or any life lesson that you’d like to share.