We usually learn early on in childhood that sometimes, life just isn't fair. Maybe we really wanted that packet of sweets that our parents said no to, or perhaps it just sucked that we weren't allowed to stay up as late as our friends did (or at least, as late as they told us they did).
But, the older we get, the more we realise that life not being fair is a lesson we're going to have to learn more than once. In fact, it's a lesson we never really stop learning, no matter how far down the road we are.
The trouble is, although we usually come to a point in life where we know that sometimes, bad things happen to good people - and vice versa - it doesn't really make it any easier to accept.
Something happened to me this week. I was driving to work behind a very big, very slow truck. We reached a red light. And after waiting for maybe thirty seconds, the truck driver decided to go. The light was still red and the road ahead is obscured, so you can't see what's coming (hence the lights...). His decision to run the red light was, in my view, a hugely dangerous one.
I thought about beeping my horn. I thought about gesturing at him (you know, Makaton sign language for "please be careful" or something - honest). But instead, I quickly made a note of his registration number. And, when I returned home after my work shift, much later that day, I reported him to his boss via email.
It's something I could have just rolled my eyes and tutted over. I could have simply told my workmates and moaned about dangerous drivers who ought to know better. But for some reason, that just wasn't enough. I couldn't understand why I was so determined that this guy had to pay for his reckless driving; I just knew that it was vital he did.
And then, the next morning, when I received a reply from the truck driver's boss, apologising and saying the driver had been sternly spoken to and would also like to send his apologies, I couldn't understand why the strange sense of victory I had was so small and so fleeting.
Why did I still feel like I needed more? Why did I have a bizarre urge to go out searching for more bad driving and report all of that, too?!
And then I remembered.
I remembered the reason I had been in a bad mood when I set out to work, that morning.
I remembered the reason I struggle to get to sleep every night.
I remembered the reason I recently started counselling.
You see, four months ago, a trivial argument with a friend, in which I said I was hurt and angry with her for not being honest with me, blew up into something it never had to be.
She could have said "I'm sorry you feel that way, that wasn't my intention."
But she didn't. And, long story short, I ended up losing three of my closest friends, receiving actual hate mail from one of them, being accused of being a bully, as well as a liar and sinking into a deep depression.
Alas, my depression is neither sexy, nor French.
I'm not a bully or a liar.
I'm not any of those things and I kept the entire text argument on my phone, so that I could always prove it.
But only one member of our friendship group wanted to see it. Only my best friend cared about my side of the story. Everyone else went along with the other version. The version in which there was only one person at fault, and that person was very much me.
For four months, I've been able to prove that that's not true. But I can't, because nobody - at least none of those three friends I've lost - wants to hear. So, instead, someone has gotten away with painting me as things I'm not. They've gotten away with portraying themselves as an innocent victim of my cruelty.
And that, ladies and gents, isn't fair.
Can you see where I'm going with this?!
Suddenly, I realised why it was so vital that I reported that truck driver for running the red light. Sure, it was dangerous of him and maybe I was doing the right thing, but that was only part of the reason I took down his registration and emailed his boss.
I did it, because I needed justice. I needed someone who'd done something wrong, to receive some kind of consequence for it. I needed to feel as though I had been listened to; as though my side of the story was worth hearing.
And that's also why my "joy" (if you can really call it that) at receiving a reply from the guy's boss, was so short-lived.
It was "justice." But not really the "justice" I needed. It didn't change anything. When I look through old photo albums now, there are still three faces, smiling out at me, belonging to people who believe in a warped, nasty version of me that doesn't actually exist. All because someone couldn't just say "sorry you feel that way."
And that, say it with me again, people: is not fair.
But you know what? That's life. Life is not always fair and there's nothing we can do about it.
If life was fair, the person who sent me the hate mail would have had her eyebrows plucked out by ravenous seagulls by now and would be forced to draw them on with marker pen. And she'd discover she only had fluorescent green markers in the house. And would be somehow unable to buy or borrow an eyebrow pencil, anywhere...
That didn't happen.
Sometimes, the people who hurt us never experience a consequence to their actions. Sometimes, people who blindly believe cruel lies never find out how it feels to have someone believe something hurtful and untrue about them.
As I sat in bed, a couple of mornings ago, reading an email informing me that a truck driver had been given a slap on the wrist for his bad driving, I finally began to realise that, although the unfairness of life can really hurt, you can't really make up for it, by trying to seek justice in other ways. All you can do is try to come to terms with it.
Am I still frustrated, knowing people I was once so close to that I considered them a second family feel genuine hate for me, based on a load of exaggerations and outright lies? Of course. I'm frustrated, angry and deeply, deeply sad. Maybe a part of me always will be.
But realising that life is not always fair isn't a lesson we only learn once, over the course of our lives. We learn it and then, weeks, months, or even years later, something else happens that feels utterly unjust and we have to learn it all over again. And there is no caveat to it. It's not a case of "life's not fair, but you can make it better by doing X, Y or Z." Because sometimes, there really isn't anything you can do, aside from accept that an unfair, unjust thing has taken place, then move forwards with your life in the most positive way you can find.
Because, essentially, that's the only part we have any control over: how we deal with the unfairness of life.
We can sit and mope and cry and get angry. And there is value to that - never let anyone tell you that you can't have a damn good rant about things, or a proper, snotty cry about it all.
We can try to seek out our own form of justice, by campaigning against a result we feel is wrong, or by seeking some kind of revenge on those who've hurt us. The trouble with revenge is that it often has the negative effect of reducing you to the level of the people who've wronged you in the first place.
Or, we can remind ourselves of all the good things we still have in our lives. We can resolve to de-stress, somehow. We can find a way to move on, when life has dealt us a cruel, unfair blow.
What we must try to avoid, is allowing the unfair moments in life to lead to us giving up, entirely. We need to try see the good, as well as the bad in our lives. To look for the positives, when life seems to be doling out negatives.
Otherwise, we lose ourselves. We become eaten up by the unjust nature of the world in which we live. We become bitter and we cease to notice or enjoy the beauty of the lives we lead.
And that isn't fair to ourselves.