I woke up this morning to receive this email:
“At the end of 2011 I heard you speak at my school in Brisbane and you were truly captivating. Since that time I've had a pretty extreme life event - very similar to those you recounted during your talk - and was wondering if I could send you a quick email about it? If you ended up retelling my story and it made even one person think again about what they were doing I would be thrilled.”
I wrote back immediately and a while later an email arrived that told of the young woman’s journey over the past couple of years. To describe it as harrowing would be an understatement – you name it, she had done it and had suffered the consequences. A girl who obviously had it all – a great school, parents who gave her everything and offers to study at the best universities – her life seemed all planned out and then it all went terribly wrong. Like so many young women I meet at schools across the country who are having problems, it started with a boy!I won’t go into any details about what happened next but needless to say she’s had it pretty tough and only now seems to be finding her way. The good news is that she certainly does sound like she is getting back on track. Her email was incredibly moving and I find it incredible that she took the time to seek me out and write to me about what happened to her ...
When I wrote back I asked her if I could write about her email in my blog and possibly include some quotes, ensuring that I kept her anonymity, as I felt that there was one paragraph in particular that was extremely powerful. She agreed.Here is the quote:
“It sounds simple but I never really considered that bad decisions can be made by any one; you can be the most responsible and gifted person and still fall into the depths of destruction. I look back now and realise somewhere along the way I lost myself, without even noticing at the time, but I'm slowly starting to reclaim my life. I just guess I never realised that misfortune doesn't discriminate based on your background - anyone can fall. One thing that really helped me when times were particularly dark was revisiting my memories of your talk. It sounds ridiculous, but remembering the stories you told of good people who made bad decisions was comforting. I by no means wish any bad fortune on anyone but it's reassuring to know I'm not alone.”At any point in one’s life a bad decision can have catastrophic consequences. During adolescence, however, bad decisions are made almost daily – that’s just the nature of the beast! The problem is that you can then go through the rest of your life beating yourself up about the choices you made during this difficult time and never recovering. ‘Good people make bad decisions’ – that’s just a fact of life – I think it’s wonderful that this young woman has grasped that and is now moving on in a positive way.
I say it all the time, but I truly am one of the luckiest people in the world. Everyday I get to do a job that I love, working with amazing young people who are attempting to do the ‘right thing’ in a very complex world. It is such a privilege to do what I do and when someone takes the time to write to me and share their thoughts, troubles or aspirations I realize just how blessed I am!