Each school year contains certain stereo types in their students - the quiet, brainy kid; the troubled trouble-maker; the popular kid; the bully; the push-over; the sporty kid; the brown nose; the ginger; the kid with big ears and buck teeth; the kids that cries over everything; the noisy kid - the list goes on.
Somewhere, sitting outside all of these main characters, are the extras. There are some episodes that see them in a speaking role, and some where they are actually the focus. At least that's how it seems to an outsider looking in. But for these extras, they still have the leading roles to play in their own lives, even if they are largely insignificant to the rest of the cast and crew.
Having all of this sorted, I am still surprised to find that I don't know which of these kids I was. I was really smart (Dux in primary) but not quiet or geeky; I was friendly and generally well liked, but not the girl that battered her eyelids and played friends off against one another; I was really good at sports but I was way to chunky to be considered actually sporty; I rarely got in trouble but I certainly wasn't a kiss-arse; I was sensitive but also tough and I was generally always involved in stuff but I still always felt like I wasn't actually part of it all, perhaps dancing to my own tune too much but still the one that people turned to for support, guidance and leadership in many situations.
When I look at the kids that are in my daughters class and reflect on the different personalities and particularly the ways in which to get each child to respond in a positive way to the tasks that I am involved in, I sometimes wonder what the adults that looked at the child-Wendy were thinking. I know what I wanted them to think, but I don't know what it is that they actually thought.
I believe that I have spent so much of my adolescence, early adult hood and certainly a great part of my broader adult life trying to work out who I am by how other people see me. That is not to say that I typically put up an image that I want them to see or that I shape my attitudes and behaviours by their standards and expectations, but I realise that I do tend to seek my understanding in other people's conclusions. I also believe that this has been a great limitation in my growth and something that I am ready to step away from now, or at least, something that I would like to be stepping away from and now seems like a pretty good time.
Being quite physically capable in the things that I do, it has taken me some time to admit that I am actually better at the theory than the practical side of life. I spend so much time in my head and am possibly driven to do so by my failure to apply my mental developments to my actual life. The result, however, is a life that is a long way from the one that I want to live, no matter how much I own the responsibility for my reality.
I read a quote recently that was attributed to James M Barrie, the author of Peter Pan. It reads:
"The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another, and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to write."
The greatest sorrow of this quote in relation to my life is not only have I been writing the wrong story, I never even bothered to work out what story it was that I would have liked to have written.
Is it too late? Of course it isn't - theoretically, and that's where I return to the crux of the problem: theory versus practical.