Fifth day of kindness: Follow the leader

Told you I’d finish kindness week, I’m a person of my word!

This year for mental health awareness week the theme was kindness and I’ve left my series of kindness I’ve experienced myself because I can never finish anything when it’s relevant. (See reasons why this blog isn’t sponsored, part 14905749305679.)

Anyway, if you want to read the previous parts, they are here

This story is from the time I was in hospital. I should preface this by saying that the hospital was in a really rough town.

I’ve always found it easier going out when it’s with a purpose, so I doubled getting out of the hospital by starting yoga classes at a nearby rugby club.

Alas, I didn’t know where it was at first.

At the time of my first class, I ended up at a football field. A group of youths were sitting at the benches. They were maybe fourteen, fifteen. A group of about fifteen boys and girls.

I must’ve looked like a right twat with my yoga mat under my arm at a desolate field. I went over to them to ask for directions.

I should mention two things: I’m terrified of youths. All of a sudden I’m fourteen years old myself. I forget that I’m actually an adult now. However, I’ve trained as a journalist. Striking a conversation with strangers is literally what I was trained to do.

This situation could’ve ended badly. They could’ve just told me to go fuck myself, but the girls surprised me by offering to walk me where I needed to be. The boys joined in too.

It was quite a bizarre sight. I was a good head taller than anyone in the group so I rose from the sea of hoodie-covered heads like Jesus leading my flock, even though I was the one being led. The boys were hanging back and taking the piss at times of course, but they still behaved well and followed us along.

I chatted with the girls as we walked towards the rugby club. Turns out I was way off and would’ve never found it without them.

It was bizarre. I realised I haven’t had much contact with young people since I was a teenager myself but this group in their hoodies and big hoop earrings might as well could’ve been off my school yard in Finland than a rough industrial town in England.

One of the girls referred to a boy she likes, one of the gentlemen hanging behind us I assumed, who isn’t always nice to her.

I told her to go find one who manages to stay nice all the time.

I must’ve said it with so much conviction that she seemed to be genuinely taking that on.

I started thinking what it would’ve been like for me to have a younger sibling. What I would’ve wanted them to know?

My family isn’t big on life advice, but my uncle told me to get a man who has dry sawdust inside his head.

Good advice. Nothing to add.

I wonder what the girls would say if they knew I’m on an evening leave from the loony bin.

I look at them. Underneath their cat eyes and big hairdos they look so unapologetically young. This evening looking for the rugby club was just a few weeks after my suicide attempt. I was probably only ten years older than these girls.

I’d never want any of them to be in the same place I had been.

Children have always liked me. I wonder is it the same thing as with people who are allergic to cats that seem to be peeling cats off them every five seconds. I’ve never understood people who take on a stupid voice as they talk to children. They are more intelligent than they’re given credit for. I talk to children like adults, minus the cursing, and they seem to like it.

Maybe that’s why these girls are talking to me like I was one of them, asking me have I just moved in and tell about their lives.

Would’ve I offered to help a complete stranger when I was their age, or would’ve I waited what my friends said?

Even though they were complete strangers, I felt strangely protective of them all of a sudden. These young, beautiful girls who I would’ve been terrified of as a teenager because they very obviously were cooler than me, treated me like I was one of their own. In my mind I said a little prayer that they will keep that spirit of helping others and carry it with them to adulthood. I wished the light within them would never be snuffed out.

We get to the rugby club. I thank my guides. They wave as they turn around. Even the boys wave.

When I tell the story to nurses they suck air in through their teeth as I mention a group of youths but they are astonished as I finish the sentence.

I wanted to include this story earlier in the series, because it was such a sincere act of kindness.

I’ve been less judgemental about teenagers since.

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