I Hope You Never Forget this Happened to You

This was said to me the other day. A couple of my close friends had issues happen that drastically impacted their mental health. The rest of us in the group banded together to be there for them.

But this quote was said to me by my partner, who has gone through many of his own struggles. It has stuck with me, and I truthfully think it is completely changing my mindset and thinking.

We all go through problems and challenges in life. Me, you, the person down the street, your boss, the popular person in school– it doesn’t matter who you are. You will face challenges in your life. Challenges work to shape you. They highlight maybe an area that needs improvement. I truly believe that you learn more when you face a problem and maybe fail than when everything is easy and you succeed. As these challenges shape you, you decide what you want the outcome to be. You can choose to stay in that negative space, or you can grow from it.

Hopefully you choose to grow from it. I can’t make that call for you or anyone else. I can only make that call for me. I like to think I grow from all my challenges. But I know the truth. I have issues that come up of the same challenges again and again. Sometimes it takes two or three times of the same issue for it to actually sink in.

But, that being said, just because you grow doesn’t make the issue fully disappear. I’ve heard it compared to scar tissue. It’s no longer an open wound, but it’s still there. And that’s where the title for today comes in. “I hope you never forget this happened to you.” You may heal, you may grow, but don’t forget the problem in the first place. If you forget what the problem was, you run the risk of it happening again.

I know where I come from. I collect keychains. I can tell you where every single one of them came from and who got them for me. They serve as a reminder of my travel journal and journals of people I care about. Similarly, with most of the scars on my body, I can tell you what caused them. I know where they came from, and I can remember the hurt they caused at the time. But for some reason, I never thought about applying this concept to my mental struggles.

But it makes so much sense if you think about it. The issues you face are the ones that help to shape you the most. It’s important to remember them, and the lessons taught. I’ve talked before about my worst semester of college. I still tell this story when people haven’t heard it. It took a bit of a toll on my mental health, and I had to learn a lot from it. This way, these past couple of months when I was super busy and had a whole schedule printed out, I knew that because I had handled such a rough semester, I could handle this. I can handle a lot of what I go through now because of what I have already been through.

I’m still learning. I still grow. That never stops. But I’ve changed a lot of my approach. At one point, I was constantly wishing through the struggles. I wanted to always be on the other side. I just wanted to be this idealized version of myself where I was better, I had my life together, and things were just working out the way they need to. But it’s been such a time that that is so unrealistic. I’m working on accepting the present moment with all the challenges I currently face. I can be battered, bruised, and broken down, but I know I will always come back stronger. Life continues to be a lot. But I’m not forgetting what happens to me.

Growth isn’t linear. I struggle. I stumble. And I definitely fall. Lately, it feels I take one step forward and two steps back. But I know that the issues I am facing are ones I have worked through before. The stress on my shoulders is familiar, but it’s still heavy. So I’ll work, and I’ll grow. I won’t forget, though, so that if I face these types of challenges again, I’ll be ready.

I encourage you not to forget the things that happen to you. Your challenges are unique. They shape you and can guide you. Learn from them, but don’t forget them. Remember what you’ve been through. When you drive, you have rearview mirrors. This way you can see what is behind and beside you. But they’re relatively small compared to the windshield. It’s much more important to see where you are headed and what the present and future look like. But you also can’t neglect what’s behind you. It might end up causing harm. In the same vein, remember what you’ve been through as you continue to move toward the future. And like my partner said to me, “I hope you never forget this happened to you.”

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