I attended a school reunion this weekend. My best friend from school days – a friend I still consider my closest friend – gave an address to the packed school auditorium. My friend has amazing credentials having been principal at a prestigious girls high school in the UK for the past 14 or so years.
She is a skilled public speaker and had the girls in the palm of her hands from her few opening lines. It’s not hard she says…she has a formula for doing just that. A way of working the room and engaging everyone within earshot. You could have heard a pin drop…
She was entertaining, just as she had been as a schoolgirl all those years ago, with a captivating cheekiness.
It wasn’t a long speech – she’d been asked to keep to a 10 minute limit. After the self-deprecating stories, recollections of our time at school, and then a brief synopsis of her life since leaving school, she left the 600-odd girls with three thoughts:
Believe in yourself
Niceness and kindness cost nothing
Very simple thoughts – empowering thoughts. Of the three, I thought the first one could have made a huge difference to me if it’d been indoctrinated early on. I don’t know why it wasn’t – it seems so so simple.
It’s not too late though, it’s never too late.
How does this relate to my headline? We are definitely all different. We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses…in that respect we’re all the same. My friend gave the assembled girls this message. We are all beautiful … everyone brings something very special to life. At a time when girls struggle with self image, when so many succumb to eating disorders as a cry for help, it is so important to remind each other of that. Daily, hourly …
I’ve discovered over the past 48 hours (girls are so good at sharing) that many of my friends suffered their own private agonies during school days. One had a severely alcoholic father, another had a father who was a dreadful bully and made their life – and their mother’s – a misery. Her mother ignored it by shopping, shopping and shopping.
One girl – a tiny girl with huge blue protruding eyes, was such a severe asthmatic she never should have been sent to a boarding school – especially one where she had to sleep on a windowless balcony all year (she died during her first year at school) … I could go on. We didn’t know these things at the time. Our friends suffered in silence … what a terrible thought.
Had we known, I’d like to think we would have done more to comfort our friends.
Niceness and kindness cost nothing.