Why I Believe Experience Is What You Make It

 In Personal Growth

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.

Author: Emily B. Cummins

Emily Cummins is a University of Florida & College of Central Florida grad who is passionate about partnering with people to become who they were made to be. Emily is the Online Campus Pastor at Church of Hope in Ocala, Florida. She’s passionate about storytelling, good cups of coffee, and jamming to country music. And most importantly, she’s passionately pursuing becoming the woman God made her to be.

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