What You Have Learned

“What you have learned, from experience, is worth much more than gold. If you have a house it may burn down. Any kind of possession can be lost, but your experience is yours forever. Keep it and find a way to use it.” – The Road of Lost Innocence

Finding a way to incorporate your past into your present is not an easy feat. As we grow and develop as individuals, we often leave our past behind – viewing it as something we have overcome or are now beyond. We bury it in hopes of forgetting what happened. Or, we do the opposite. We hold onto the past, refusing to let go. We let ourselves be defined by it and struggle to move on with our lives.    

I believe the objective should be to accept our past, good or bad, recognize how it has shaped our present and see how it can be used to improve our future. Our past is an important part of our identity. No matter how much we may want to deny it, our past has influenced how we view the world, what we know and what we like and dislike. Our past helped us become who we are today. It should not be discarded, nor should it be clung to.

As a journalist and a human rights enthusiast, I have heard a number of stories about peoples’ past experiences. I have heard tragic tales of abandonment, rape and violence, and I have heard beautiful tales of love, magic, hope and triumph. After hearing these stories, I am always left wondering how such experiences affected where the storytellers are today. Did they cause the individual such pain that they now live in fear, or did they encourage the individual to take great risks and pursue their dreams? Then I think about my past and how my own experiences have affected me.

I admit, at different points in my life I have played both the victim of my past and the oppressor. I have attached myself to the past, fearing change and the unknown, and I have shunned my past, trying to escape its grip. I believe that through self-reflection and patience, though, I have gradually begun to incorporate my experiences in a positive way.

I firmly believe that your experiences, like mine, can lead you to finding your purpose in life. For they are unique and have given you insight into the world that you, and only you, can use to make it a better place.