The things we go through often shape the way we view life and our attitude through it all. Whether we believe we are experiencing the good, bad or ugly it is important to remember there is always a lesson to learn.
The following Quora writers share the experiences that shaped their personalities.
If you are interested in reading more stories, you can find the original text source at the end of the article.
“I was the ‘makeup’ child, born nine months after my older sisters death. I always felt the dragging, stifling responsibility of two lives. I was responsible for both. I was expected to carry my sisters torch as well as my own, and if I failed, I would be failing her, myself, and my parents.
One day, when I finally said the words ‘makeup child’ out loud, I realized how completely unfair and ridiculous the harness of that yoke was weighing on me. I dont think my parents consciously expected me to carry my sisters weight. It was just kind of an accepted fact. If I went to them and asked them about it now, Im sure they would say they never expected such, but then again, expectations can take all sorts of hidden forms, whether we are placing them on ourselves, or they are given to us.
The day I said the words out loud was the day that I said, ‘Enough!’ It was a day when I understood that I had married the man I was expected to marry, I had followed the path I was expected to follow, and I was done being who I was expected to be.
A year after that day, has it gotten easier to fight over 45 years of expectations? Not exactly, but Im trying . Im trying to find out when my reactions are reactions and when my responses are responses. I am reading and writing, learning and exploring. I am living in a new city, single and hoping for a rebirth. I only hope that it is not in vain and I will emerge as a phoenix, or at the very least a little less like the chicken I used to be…”
Laurie Bowers Assid
“I was 22, young and foolish. I had a very idealistic definition of friendship. I loved my friends and I was willing to do anything for them.
One day, I was with my friends and a woman approached me angrily. She accused me of saying this and saying that, which werent true.
I was super shocked. In tears, I told the woman that I wasnt talking ill towards or about her and if anything, I couldnt care less about her. I dont know anything about her except for her first name.
Gossip and intrigues are two things I dont have time for!
Then the woman left – still angry.
Still shocked, I looked at my friends. I saw contempt in their eyes – except for my one friend, M. It seemed that they were really pleased with the incident. They didnt ask me if I was alright and didnt even bother to ask me about my side of the story.
While we were having lunch, I was quiet – still shocked because of the incident. My ‘friends’ were laughing and chatting happily – like nothing happened. They ignored me except for M who squeezed my hand and said, ‘Dont mind that woman. Shes notorious for being a war freak.’
I tried my best to act normally throughout the day even if my knees were trembling, but I also went to the comfort room and cried.
A month later, my name was cleared. The woman gave me a bar of chocolate probably to make amends but she didnt apologize verbally.
The incident changed my personality forever because I learned to be mindful of who I called friends and who I let into my circle.
I have friends which I categorize according to:
It pains me to use the term ‘fake’ because … is there such a thing as a fake friend?
I just want to say that these are the type of ‘friends’ that seem to be always waiting for disasters to happen to me. They are the type of ‘friends’ who dont want me to be happier or more successful than they are.
As for the incident … what was truly painful was the thought that I was betrayed face-to-face by the people I called friends.
It was painful to be wrongly accused.
It was also painful to be humiliated in that manner.
However, it was more painful to see the indifference and contempt in the eyes of my ‘friends’ in such a time when I really needed someone. I was hoping to see their concern but I guess it also taught me not to expect anything from my friends. I am my own best friend, protector and cheer leader.
Twelve years later, M is still a dear friend. So, looking back that incident wasn’t so bad becauseI gained a lifetime friend.”
“I left the United States of America.
(So long as my visa holds out! Fingers crossed!)
I think of myself as worldly and well traveled. Id been to dozens of countries all over the world. I was trs chic, globalized, informed and cosmopolitan.
I thought I knew more than most people.
Boy, was I wrong.
There is a massive difference between bouncing around countries as a student and tourist and actually building a life as a foreigner.
I now know that many of us in the United States are, for the most part, destructively and massively arrogant.
The U.S has enjoyed being a world power since the end of WWII. We havent had our teeth kicked in the way other countries have. We are now coasting on fumes of former grandeur.
But the dream that was America never became reality. Instead we have monstrously transformed it into the United States and try to pretend its the same thing.
And it hurts, because I love my country. I love our capacity for change and forcing good to come from chaos. I love our people and the gusto they embody. I love our pioneer spirit and our drive to push further just to see if we can touch a new horizon.
But we have grown reckless. We are like a child that has no sense of mortality.
We think nothing can touch us and we are oh so very mistaken.
Most Americans have very little concept of how we are viewed by the global community now. Many Americans wouldn’t care again, because of the whole arrogance thing.
I let go of my nationalism in order to understand true patriotism.
I learned our history. Our true history. Fraught with genocide, prejudice, and injustice worse than many foes our country has manipulated us into fighting. We are not as free from the sins we see in others as we would like to believe.
And it has changed me.
The process was painful but necessary. If you love something without completely understanding it, that love is misguided.
I can now accept my country as a tragically flawed place filled with the potential to truly be great. We have contributed so much innovation and good to the world, but it would be an insult to history to ignore the bad.
I try to be a kinder, humbler and a more accepting person. I try to combat injustice and hatred in my own small way whereas before I unwittingly contributed to it.
I fight my own arrogance. I see the privilege of being who I am and the opportunities I was given for reasons that have nothing to do with my own efforts.
No one has ever made the world a better place by thinking they are better than everyone else. And if our goals dont make the world better, even in some small way, then we need to sort out our priorities.”
“Failure, as much as it hurts, is an important part of life. In fact, failure is necessary.
I have failed two times. And Im not talking about small failures; Im talking about the kind of failure that changed my world, completely changed my views and transformed me into a person that I am today.
So, this is where my failure story begins:
I was an engineering aspirant so my dreams were big, I used to think about institutes of education, college life, campus placement and its not offence.
I took the Joint Education Examination and cracked it but my rank was not decent so my admission to any IIT was just screwed up. I felt my mistakes and took admission into my present college, but unfortunately after 2 to 3 months, I realized that I am kinda a genius guy and deserve to be at a IIT. I was over- confident. I finally decided that I would prepare for JEE once again and I am going to rock the exam and get the heck out of here.
Again, I started thinking and day-dreaming about my future. It was my over confidence that allowed me to think that I should not attend my college now because I was going to leave it. So, I bunked my lectures, labs and didnt study for my semester exams. I took my exams just because my parents wanted me to. I seriously had no interest in writing them, I took everything lightly because I believed that I would escape from from it all.
I attempted JEE but it was a disaster. I hardly qualified this time, I never expected this, but since ‘Karma is a female dog’ I had no choice left. I felt my mistakes but by now there was nothing I could do about them.
Then comes my semester results. I got my reports back for both semesters and I failed miserably. I never expected it but due to all my carelessness and over-confidence – I failed.
I got a lot of criticism, friends and parents judged me, I lost all my hope and was in severe depression. But after my failure, I learnt so much about myself and the world.
So after this incident, I have learned lessons which no one can teach.
1. Experience: The experience of failing at something is truly invaluable. It makes us reflect on the real nature of things and their importance in our lives, to transform and improve our future selves.
2. Growth: When we fail, we grow and mature as human beings. We reach deeper meanings and understandings about our lives and why we’re doing the things that we’re doing. This helps us reflect and take things into perspective, developing meaning from painful situations.
Failure is not permanent but it gives a life-long lesson. Just remember to take it as an experience.
“I had a near death experience.
It was Independence day, on the 15th of August in 2016. I had slept all day long and then in the evening my friends rang me up and invited me to fly some kites along with them.
I was feeling pretty low and was in no mood to see people, but they persuaded me and eventually I gave in. I was sick of just lying on the bed and thought I would come back home in an hour or two.
And then it happened. You might have heard about the ‘Chinese Manja.’
So I was on my way, riding my scooter. Suddenly, out of the blue, I felt a thread crossing my face. I thought it would go away but it stuck around my lips. I felt a burning sensation and within seconds, I was bleeding left right and center. My white Activa turned red.
I could not even register what had transpired because in no time I was completely bleeding. I got scared. Very scared. But somehow, with one hand on my lips, I rode back to my home – luckily I was not too far away.
My dad saw me and that was the first time I saw him terrified.
I can’t tell you how sharp that manja was but within seconds I was smashed.
In that state of panic, my dad took me to a nearby government hospital.
Seven stitches in the left side of my lip and three in the right. I could never share that picture, it is gross and darn scary.
Thankfully, my dad was home (nobody else was) and the stitches were done pretty quickly.
The next day, I pick up the paper and see the same manja had taken some lives with it as well.
People who got entangled with it especially on the neck, DIED ON THE SPOT.
I was saved by 2 inches.
I was blown. I can not really describe what went through my head that day but one thing that I eventually rationalized were how trivial our daily life issues were. How do we keep fearing things and living in a state of disappointment all our lives.
What actually matters is this very moment. Not the past, not the future. I did not need anything else to lift me up.
To whosoever is reading this – be happy. You never know when you’ll get a call from heavens above. Be kind, do your best in everything but stay in the moment and do not let the issues of life affect your well being. MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
We don’t have very much time, do we? Think about it.”
“Don’t judge me.
I used to be a jerk during my school days (I think when I was in 7th grade). Due to being extremely strong (physically) I used to bully and dominate other students. Until one day, because of my attitude, I punched my little sister really hard in the nose. That day was ‘Raksha bandhan.’
After that I got bashed by my parents and relatives. Which brother does that to his sister and even more so that on a day which signifies the love between siblings.
So my crying sister says to me, ‘you are the worst brother any girl could have.’ Those words really made me feel worthless and guilty. I got really sad and I promised myself I would never ever even scold her.
That incident changed me and made me a better person. I changed into a human from the ‘animal’ I once was. Even to this day I feel guilty and ashamed of what I did to my sister.
Time passed and the bond between me and my sister only grew stronger. I stopped teasing and bullying others in my class. My sister totally changed my character. From a bad boy I became everyone’s favorite person.
The kind of person I am today is only because of my sister.
Be nice to your sisters people, they are angels – the best gift from God.”
Points have been edited for clarity.