Since nine years old, I watched others’ actions and interactions. On meeting people, I had a sense of what they were like, and I rarely shared those feelings with others. But on one occasion in kindergarten, I did share my thoughts. My friend Daryl was friendly with a vicious girl named Marsha. In class, I watched Marsha walk up to classmates and repeatedly open and close a scissors in their faces. She never did it to me; perhaps she knew I disliked her and might have punched her if she had hurt someone. Being small in stature never stopped me. I loudly asked Daryl why she liked such a "mean" girl. I wanted Marsha to hear. I kept a mental record of such types and I stayed away from the ones I didn’t like.
By 7th/8th grade, my perceptions became pronounced. I had an inner sense of what made certain kids tick. I knew their motivations - their insecurities - the ones who were cruel to others to make themselves seem important or stronger. There were days when I knew in advance who was going to talk to me and what they were going to say. I accepted my intuition, even though it confused me. When I met someone I thought was a “bad” or mean person, I wondered why others didn’t know that too. I also wondered why they put up with them.
In high school, I focused on boys, dating, and homework (in that order), and I started to ignore my intuition. That ignorance led to mediocrity. Issues I should have placed on high priority list took a backseat, or no seat at all. I didn’t know I needed to pay attention to my intuition if I was going to succeed in life. No one ever told me about that. Most people don't warn children of anything they could use later in life.
But I naturally loved helping others. I remember standing up for a girl on the playground in fourth grade. The girls wouldn't let her join our group to jump rope. I talked to her and decided she was a good person and should not be excluded. I demanded the girls let her join us. They backed down and accepted her, which of course made me happy. I had accomplished something kind and worthwhile. Unfortunately, I didn’t continue on that path. Like most children, I started focusing on myself.
My desire to help others didn’t reappear until I was 17, a freshmen in college. On my dorm floor, one by one, girls knocked on my door to see if I had time to talk. I had no clue as to why they chose me, but I became the floor psychiatrist. I was more naïve than anyone, but they trusted me to hold their secrets, and I did. I listened, and miraculously, my innocent and positive comments helped them feel better and see things clearly.
Once I graduated, I veered off track again. I was interested in a fabulous career and making myself. I wrote editorials at CBS (the opinions of management). Interestingly, in each workplace I joined, co-workers chose me as their confidant, just as the girls in college. I held their secrets, with or without them asking me to. I despised gossip and the girls who engaged in it. I still do.
Naiveté can hurt people. But hiding from reality doesn’t help either. No one is all good; no one is all bad, but people seem to have a propensity toward one or the other. It’s up to us to see which side comes through and to stay away from those who exhibit behavior you abhor. Birds of a feather DO stick together, and people will benefit by knowing they will be judged by the company they keep.