This fall my high school class will be holding a big reunion. Being so far removed from the circles of my past, it’s been a bit of a blast to reconnect via social media the last couple months. I see pictures attached to the names I knew and I almost always smile, because I see I am not the only one who has turned into a squishy old grandma. I should not find this so amusing, or so comforting.
My class was sort of renowned for their…how shall I put it?... irreverence. Once, when I was conducting an assembly with our class, I was tasked as class president to tell my classmates we had the most detentions in the history of Thomas Jefferson High School. That comment got a standing ovation. Our class advisor quit on the spot. Good times at TJ High.
In the process of reconnecting and reunion planning, a friend let us know that one of our classmates was in the hospital. He didn’t mention what the health issue was, so I private messaged him to see what was up. His response was something like this:
“Since you were one of the good ones in high school, I trust I can tell you that _________ has been suffering from serious depression and other mental health issues.” He went on to say that he and others had been bullied in school, and that it left more than scars, but actual open wounds. Makes me so sad.
Since my friend sent that message a few weeks ago I’ve been ruminating on his words “You were one of the good ones.” It’s a risky thing to be a teenager. The draw to belong is so strong, and we are so prone to making mistakes.
I’m not sure what I did or did not do that put me in the category of one of the good ones in Rob’s mind. There is likely someone else out there who has me in another category. But in general, looking back, I think I made being a kind person one of the bullet points in my self-definition.
When I look back on my own experience, I can close my eyes and make a quick sorting of people I knew. Generally the categories are Good and Less Good, rather than Good and Bad. But I cherish those who fall, without hesitation, into the Good pile.
My HOPE for today, especially for my grandchildren, who are just entering the social whirlpool of the school years, is that they make a conscious decision to be one of the good ones. And for myself, that I make that decision over and over again, even a thousand years from now.