Life is full of experiences. Some are good, others are bad. These experiences play a huge role in moulding us into the persons we become. The happy experience of being with family members, the proud moment when you came out tops in your class, that pleasurable sensation when you first fell in love and had your first kiss, that overwhelming joy when you saw your name on the university admission list, are all part of life’s good experiences. These good experiences are usually intertwined with some bad experiences. The death of loved ones, failure in a particular endeavour, emotional pain of a heartbreak, are some of the sad experiences life throws at us.
Interestingly, I have observed that people tend to cling onto their sad experiences while disregarding their good experiences. An undergraduate who passed all his papers experiences a transient happiness which dies off afterwards. In fact, there is usually little or no emotions when he wants to recollect how he sailed through. Constrastingly, a girl who had an extra year in school prolly because she failed a course, would get so emotionally attached to that experience throughout her life. Whenever she thinks about school, she immediately remembers what she went through.
The girl who got sexually abused as a teenager would most likely harbor a strong feeling of resentment for men and her heart would be filled with indignation each time she remembers her predicament. Some of such victims now despise men and vowed never to have anything to do with men.
Some questions readily come to mind, why are bad experiences imprinted, perhaps indelibly, in our mind? Why do we refuse to heal by deliberately carrying the weight of the past on our shoulders? Why do our sad experiences leave an unforgettable stain in our hearts? Are we created to behave this way?
The gratitude of the woman who is healthy cannot be compared to the disappointment of the other woman who has cancer. The joy of the girl who got married in her 20’s is nothing compared to the sadness of the lady who is still unmarried in her late 40’s. The satisfaction of the young man who is gainfully employed in his early 20’s is insignificant compared to the disgust of the man who is unemployed in his late 30’s.
I have always wondered, does being emotionally attached to our bad experiences make us better persons? I do not think so. Many persons, while cleaving unto their bad experiences have turned down opportunities for new and pleasant experiences. A girl who refused to heal from the heartbreak of a promiscuous boyfriend might unknowingly ignore a man who sincerely loves her. Some persons have developed a low-self esteem because they failed a single course which led to an extra year in school, while disregarding the fact that the passed about 50 other courses. That girl who performed her rendition beautifully on stage and even got a standing ovation from her audience would only experience a momentary awesome feeling. If the same girl had had a faux pas on stage, that experience would be seared forever into her heart. She might even decide never to give a rendition on stage again.
It is true that our bad experiences cause our hearts to bleed. However, we must make the decision to heal and learn from those experiences. Just like physical wounds require cleaning and treatment to avoid emitting repugnant smell, the emotional injuries we’ve sustained requires cleaning and treatment. If we refuse to heal from these experiences, it breeds a negative energy and unpleasant character that scares people away from us. No one likes to stay around people with sore and smelly injuries, be it physical or emotional injuries.
The truth is, people are not what happen to them. They are what they choose to become. We must learn to forgive ourselves and move on. It frees us from the past and welcomes us to a potentially great future.
Michael Ogbonnaya is a graduate of mechanical engineering from the Federal University of Technology Owerri. He is a creative writer who tries to tackle societal problems with his writing and can be reached via email@example.com