The Note

High school comic
High school comic 2.jpg

If you haven’t listened to the Heavyweight podcast you’re missing a treat, it’s a master class in audio storytelling. Each episode Jonathan Goldstein helps a friend to find closure on an issue that has been affecting their life, in an often surprising and always very human way.

The podcast indulges that deepest of human desires to tie up loose ends and get some kind of resolution to the unanswered questions that plague us and hold us back. In actual fact, Goldstein’s subjects rarely get the thing they’re seeking but they always get a different perspective on their particular problem, a viewpoint that allows them to reconcile their past within themselves, to forgive and move on.

In last week’s episode Jonathan helped his friend Julia to exorcise the demons of her high school bullies. As she put it the fear she experienced at that time lingered in her physiology, it was still impacting her decisions and actions and she didn’t want it to wield that power any more.

Listening to Julia work through her experience was moving in ways I didn’t expect and after the episode had finished some of my more painful high school memories came to the surface – so this comic practically wrote itself. I think it will feel familiar to anyone who has ever been a teenager, it’s such a hard time, a time when we’re a slave to our feelings of insecurity. Those insecurities make some of us act in ways that we will later regret very deeply.

I’m no exception. I have been on the receiving end but I have also been on the other side. I’ve made people feel shit, I’ve made people feel excluded and lonely, I’ve been unnecessarily unkind and I can see now that on every single one of those occasions I did it to make myself feel better, or desired, or popular, or safe, or powerful because I was insecure. I felt those people were prettier, or funnier, or cleverer or better at art or more popular than me and so I tried to tread them down.

That is never ok. It’s never ok to victimise others to make yourself feel better or to get yourself where you want to be. (Do you hear me President Trump and Prime Minister May?)

I’ve apologised to some of the people that I went out of my way to hurt but  if I have been unkind to you and I haven’t said sorry then please (as Julia says in the podcast) imagine my slightly overweight and highly insecure teenage self giving you an enormous hug.  

Here’s to a kinder future.