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Why I Believe Experience Is What You Make It

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How I see things matters. And I’m not referring to 20/20 vision here. The way I choose to engage with the circumstances and people around me flows from my vision, my mindset, my perspective.

I vividly remember driving home after one of my first days at a new school. I hated it. I didn’t want to go back. I was discouraged, questioning if I had made the right academic decision. Had I picked the wrong school? Was my entire future at stake? Would I make any friends? Enjoy any of my classes? After chatting with my Dad, he offered a statement of advice that I’ve treasured ever since: “Experience is what you make it.”

You know what goes hand-in-hand with experience? My thoughts. I choose what I think, what I dwell on, what I meditate on, what I obsess over. Anytime I embark on a negative downward spiral, I can always pinpoint the moment of attitude change to a negative thought I allowed to take the control center of my mind hostage.

Why didn’t I like my first day at that new school? I had already decided in my mind I wasn’t going to like it. I had only experienced half of my courses on that first day and hadn’t given new friendships a chance. I stared at the swirling world of “new” circling around me and immediately decided I didn’t want to try, I didn’t want to make it a fun, memorable experience. I had given up before I even tried.

Experience is what you make it.

Day two at that school was a different story. I looked at my environment in a different light. Rather than seeing a bleak, rocky pit, I saw a plethora of opportunity at my fingertips. I saw thousands of people walking past me, thousands of opportunities for new friendships and new memories. I saw the opportunity to receive a top-notch education, the opportunity to truly study, learn and grow, preparing for God’s next best for my life.

It’s been almost four years since that first day of classes at a school I initially decided I didn’t like. And you know what? Some of my favorite memories from my entire educational journey are at that school. Some of the primary friends I keep in touch with from that season of my life are from that school. Some of the most foundational things I learned about myself and who God is shaping me to be were at that school.

And I could have missed it entirely if I wouldn’t have changed my mindset.

I control my thoughts. We control what we see, what we think, what we experience. Check out these words from 2 Corinthians and Philippians:

“Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ . . . whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” {2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8}

No matter what you face today, take a step back and choose how you want to see it, how you want to experience it. Do you want to experience the glass-is-half-empty side of life or the glass-if-half-full side? Ultimately, the choice is up to you because, experience is what you make it.

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