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Good people make bad decsions

As I’m just about to begin my presentations to school
communities across the country for 2013 it is quite a coincidence that today I
received an email from a remarkable young woman who wanted to share her story
with me.

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!

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