Since nine years old, I actively observed others’ actions and interactions. On meeting people, I had a sense of what they were like, and I rarely shared my 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 that although I was a very small child, I openly disliked her and would have probably punched her if she had hurt one of the other kids. I loudly asked Daryl why she liked such a "mean" girl. I kept a mental record of my experiences with people, 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 for their actions - their insecurities - the ones who were cruel to make themselves seem important or stronger than others. I never told my parents, but 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 especially wondered why they put up with people I thought were bad.
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 high on my priority list took a backseat, or no seat at all. I didn’t realize I needed to pay attention to my intuition if I was going to succeed in life. In fact, I never told anyone about it.
I loved helping others. I vividly remember standing up for a girl on the playground in fourth grade. The girls I played with wouldn't let her join our group jumping rope. I talked to the girl, decided she was absolutely fine and should not be excluded. After talking to the girl - Suzanne - I demanded the girls let her join us. They backed down and accepted her, which of course made me feel great. I had accomplished something worthwhile and I was glad I helped her feel accepted. Unfortunately, I didn’t continue on that path. I was seduced by having fun, and like most children, I focused 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 listen to their problems. I had no clue as to why they chose me, but I became known as the floor psychiatrist. I was the most naïve girl on the floor, 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 fame and getting ahead. I took an editorial job at CBS to write the opinions of management. Interestingly, in each workplace I joined, co-workers chose me as their confidant, just as the girls in the college dorm had done. I never gossiped and never divulged their secrets. I despised gossip and and the girls who engaged in it. I despise it to this day.
Naiveté can hurt people, and intentionally 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 more than 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 need to know that they will be judged by the company they keep.