‘So do not forget, not everyone has the skills to impact on somebody’s life. But now you all do, through the power of positivity. Use your power wisely. Thank you and goodnight.’
And with a final flick of her over highlighted hair, and a well timed meaningful look deep in to the darkness of the audience from beneath huge false eyelashes, the lights went down, and as if on cue the thunderous applause commenced.
The over enthused 50 something sat next to me, even stood up to clap.
I rolled my eyes cynically and lent down, grabbling in to my bag for my phone.
I clearly need to be pickier about the leadership courses I book myself on to.
‘Thank god that is over’ I text my husband ‘I will be home in 20. Complete nonsense!’
I am way too cynical and jaded to buy in to a happy ‘clappy’ idea of life presented to me over the course of two hours by an underweight and no doubt overpaid (judging by her Vuitton bag) lover of all things self. I had wrongly assumed it would include the teaching of actual skills.
Like time management and prioritisation. How to hide your frustration with lazy people and appropriate ways to give feedback to a husband who doesn’t understand why playing a PS4 24 hours on the trot would be annoying to his wife!!!
I could have done with help on those, especially as my bank account is empty, my patience fund is exhausted, I haven’t had time to wash my hair since tuesday and the Irish one seems to care more about killing imaginary zombies than the general guidance and feeding of our five year old.
Oh I am all for positivity don’t get me wrong, I am even occasionally described as ‘bubbly’ (instead of just plain old ‘mad’) but fundamentally I disagree with what I have just listened to.
I believe we all impact on people, in a million different ways, some of which we will never know about, every single day.
I do not believe it takes forethought and positivity and support and encouragement every single time to change the path of somebody’s life.
And I believe it has fuck all to do with skill.
I do not believe as humans we hold as much control over ourselves or the universe or others as this woman seems to think we do.
I believe in the butterfly effect and chaos and destiny and fate and the ability to encourage, support and inspire, all the while being as miserable and as confused and as tired as sin.
I believe in honesty.
I believe in pathways walked.
Positivity is not key.
Take this example;
In 1987 a heavy set woman with brown eyes and very short hair, wearing a green yoghurt stained jumper and brown chords walked towards my mother, my father, My brother and me.
‘Welcome!’ she boomed to the four of us in an over friendly and positive manner grabbing for my dad’s hand to shake. ‘Welcome to the New English International School. We are thrilled to be able to show you around today.’
She was genuine, and informative, friendly, empathetic to my family’s circumstances and fantastically positive about the possibility of 6 year old me joining that school following our recent move to the South Coast of Spain from dreary old England.
Full of beans and again, with very positive body language and inflection of tone, she helpfully showed us around the welcoming and unique grounds. She informed my parents about the quality of the teachers and the past history of successful students. My mum laughed with her, my dad nodded and listened to understand, my brother nudged me encouragingly and while all of this was happening I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
I wanted to come to this school SO BADLY, this woman was so approachable and ‘nice,’ and not at all scary like the head teacher at my stuffy old school in England, and best of all I wouldn’t have to wear a uniform.
She invested a good 3 hours in the meet and greet.
As we climbed back in to the car I bobbed up and down with excitement.
A school I can look forward to attending, no need to feel intimidated anymore!
‘When can I start daddy? When am I starting mummy?’
‘You’re not.’ They both replied in unison, and we sped out of there like the place was on fire.
I remember crying and sulking, moaning and eventually letting it go, as weeks later I started at a very different type of school.
A type of school I was used to.
An international school in Spain very similar to the one I had left in England, with a very similar and stern head teacher.
I won’t bore you senseless.
Some of you will have already read about my impressions of school (I fucking hated it) and the impact those experiences, like anybody who was bullied in school, have had on the rest of my life.
Some of you will also have already read about the wonderful times I had with some of the girls I met there, who are still my friends now. Girls like me, who just wanted to get through it.
We were miserable, we were misunderstood, we were not positive at all.
And these girls were my support, my encouragement and they inspired me, in spite of that.
They have impacted my life in huge ways.
Like I say.
All of our experiences, bad and good, borne out of positivity and adversity, shape our lives and who we are, which enables us to shape the lives of others in some pre-determined ways and randomly in others.
But don’t put too much thought in to it.
We don’t have as much control as we like to think we do.
Years later I asked my dad why I hadn’t been allowed to attend the New English International school from the start, having always wished I had.
His reply has stayed with me ever since.
It reminds me to chill out and stop stressing about ‘big deal’ decisions.
What will be will be.
‘The woman had a yoghurt stain on her top and it really annoyed me and your mum. The minute we saw it we both agreed to find a different school.’
So you see.. that woman, who’s name I will never know, on some day in 1987, was getting breakfast and accidentally spilled some yogurt on her top, maybe she didn’t notice, maybe she did, but directly because of that, decisions were made that have shaped who I am as a person, and the life I have lived since.
Because. She. Spilled. her. Yoghurt.
I’ll leave you with that.
I bloody love the butterfly effect.
Be positive, be miserable, be who you wanna be.
We literally have no control over anything anyway.
I should do totally do motivational courses.
Thank you and goodnight