Photo by Mike Monaghan
“I expected more from you Trudy Murphy” – Mrs Matthews
Mrs Matthews was my favourite school teacher. She was a short, buxom woman with a really kind disposition and smiley brown eyes. I loved being in her class and tried so hard to do well on my assignments for her. But during the year Mrs Matthews was my teacher, my best friend moved away and I started hanging out with a whole new crowd of friends.
Close by to our school was a large vacant plot of land with a creek running through it. Local neighbourhood kids had built dirt bike tracks through it and a makeshift flying fox swing across the river. During lunchtime, my new friends and I would take off to “The Creek”, as we called it, to hang out. Of course, leaving school grounds during school hours was forbidden so it was exciting to sneak away. But one day, we returned late, after the class bell had rang, and as we stood deciding if we should go in or skip class altogether, the Principal drove by and caught us.
You can imagine the hell storm that followed with our parents being contacted and detention assignments for what, at the time, felt like an eternity. But the worst part, and the moment that still lives inside me today, was the look of disappointment on Mrs Matthew’s face when she saw me and her words “I expected more from you Trudy Murphy”. During her meeting with my parents, Mrs Matthews warned them that I had fallen in with “a bad crowd”and she was worried that they would hold me back.
As a teenager, I really didn’t know what to do with this information. When you’re in school it’s difficult to change your friends and I had felt lucky that they had accepted and included me in their group. But as an adult I realize that if you want to change your life, sometimes you have to change your friends. If you take a mental poll of your friends today, it’s likely that you are the exact average of them in terms of income, interests and ambition, because we attract and are attracted to people who are like us. Therefore, you already meet the standards and expectations of the people in your circle.
So how do you change your friends? You could move cities and start fresh. There’s definitely a sense of freedom and reinvention to that strategy, but it can also be a very lonely path. The alternative is to start engaging in new activities and interests that will bring you into close proximity with the people you would like to emulate. No matter how you go about making new friends, it will take time, guts, and an openness to meeting new people. But trust me, it’s worth it if you want to make your dreams a reality. You just need to decide, do you want to continue to be a teenager that follows others or an adult that walks tall to the beat of their own drum?
Tell me in the comments below how your friends have impacted your life. I’d love to hear from you.