It’s been 27 years since my first, first day of school. Since the first of many photographs were taken of me stood proudly in front of my front door, school bag in hand and straw hat atop my head.
A lot has changed since then, but it got me to thinking about the things parents all over the country will be saying to their children as they embark on this huge life event. It made me think about all the life lessons I learnt in those few days, months and years and how I still us them today.
Life Lesson 1: Be Nice To Everyone
This might seem incredibly insincere and near enough impossible, but let me tell you a little something my wonderful grandfather told me when I was about 6 “People will always remember the feelings they had about you the first time you met”. At that age it seemed a little full on, but as a grown ass 30-year-old it’s so very true.
So whilst I’m not saying you have to fake smile at everyone when you first meet, or force them to be your best friend, being nice to EVERYONE when you first meet them is a sure-fire way to not only retain relationships it’s also a wonderful lasting memory to leave with someone.
Life Lesson 2: Learn to Compliment Sincerely
I am the queen of this, have been my whole life, so much so that my mum says she learnt it from me as a kid. As an only child on many a camping holiday I had two choices, play alone, or make new friends & you know the best way to make friends? Be nice to people and give them a genuine compliment.
Mum jokes that as a kid I would meet new adults and the first thing I would do would be complement their hair, or lovely tie and without fail I would be their favourite human and they would without a doubt remember me.
I know this to be true because some 25 years later a friend of my mums remembers me telling her how pretty her necklace was, a necklace she wears to this day and says often thinks of a little bright-eyed 5-year-old telling her it looked like treasure.
Nowadays I am the first to tell someone how amazing they look, but not in general terms that can seem insincere, I find something that I genuinely like about them, not just their looks either, maybe something they’ve written, something they’ve said. Think about how it feels when someone compliments you, why not share that feeling, chuck those compliments around like confetti!
Life Lesson 3: You Don’t Always Have To Be Right
Ouch, this is a stinger, and my least favourite. I LOVE being right, but more than that I HATE being wrong.
I remember being sent to stand outside the classroom during a french class when I was around 8 years old because I simply wouldn’t accept that simply saying English words with a faux french accent made the words French! Outraged I was, and boy did I let my lovely, patient French teacher know about it.
Lesson I learnt, sometimes I’m wrong and that’s ok, there’s no need to fall on my metaphorical sword every time!
Even now I’m not great at having my thoughts, opinion, judgements questions, but I’m learning to at least keep the incandescent outrage inside rather than say everything I think! Case in point an uncomfortable conversation with a client I remained entirely calm and serene face to face, then stomped around the house being mad on my own. Professional to the very end!
Life Lesson 4: Life Won’t Always Be Fair
People will be picked before you for teams, the same person will ALWAYS get the lead role in every school play, the boy you love more than life itself will prefer your friend.
20 years later and being overlooked for promotions, losing out on freelance work, liking a boy who doesn’t like you back, still stings like a bitch but you know what I survived it back then and I survive it now.
The best way I’ve learnt to deal with it, be genuinely happy for the other person who got the promotion, don’t mentally wish ill fortune on the freelancer who won the client and for the love of god don’t waste hours tearing myself apart trying to work out why the boy doesn’t like me, chances are Em, he just likes the other girl more, it’s that simple.
Life Lesson 5: Don’t Fight Other People’s Battles
I learnt this one the hard way, many a detention was spent writing lines after jumping to the defence of someone else, and whilst the ‘bad guy’ and the ‘victim’ walked off into the sunset, I was left being bollocked and staring at chalkboard, repeating lines for a weeks worth of lunches.
Same happens now, people can fight their own battles, unless I can offer support/counsel or effectively help a situation I keep my beak out! No good comes from being everyone else martyr, believe me!
All it ever got me was middle finger blisters from my Berol handwriting pen!
Life Lesson 6: Nothing Is Ever As Bad As It Seems
Lord I tell myself this as much now as I did as a teenager. It’s not the end of the world and in the famous words of orphan Annie (I played Grace in the school adaptation, missed out on the lead, of course!) “the sun will come out tomorrow” and you know what it does.
Nothing is ever as bad as you think it is, whether it’s being caught playing hookie from school or cocking up a client brief. The best thing to do is own your mistake, take responsibility and do what you can to put things right. Mental self-flagellation does no good, it fixes nothing and simply leaves you feeling even worse.
I won’t lie, I’m glad I’m an adult and no longer have to go to school, but looking back I’m glad I see my time at school mostly through rose-tinted glasses.
I’d love to you know your favourite school lessons that you live by today, let me know below!