“Mother knows best.” I was told to be prepared. I was told to avoid this to prevent that, to do this when I notice that, to run there when I see that; I was told I would go through pain, I would get hurt, I would be disappointed, I would be lost, I would be upset, but if I just listened and learned from others’ experiences I might be able to prevent it all.
I remembered what my mom had said. I remembered her voice as she tried to explain to me the lessons she had learned throughout her life, but I chose to ignore her. I chose to give up on comprehending her lessons after deciding the lessons were probably not that important. I chose to blast music with my headphones in instead of trying to listen to her further explain her point.
And this never had any impact on my life. The advice that I had deemed to be unimportant really was unimportant to me. Everything in my life was fine. I had never experienced any real disrupting obstacle in my life ever before. My life was very peaceful, and I had grown up very sheltered. I thought I was handling everything well, until I finally hit my first bump in the road. A situation I could have been more prepared for happened, and then the advice clicked. I finally understood what my mom tried to warn me about. I finally understood what she was trying to tell me. It finally gave me an answer to what she was trying to prepare me for. As I look back on it now, I realize that her advice would have most likely changed the way I reacted to and handled this situation. If I had known how much pain this advice could have saved me from, I might have listened more closely. If I had realized how many discouraging thoughts this situation was going to bring me, I might have actually taken my mom’s advice as more than just one of our daily lighthearted conversations. My mom had warned me at least ten times about the possibility of a situation exactly like this and what to expect, yet I never found the warning important until it was too late.
The caution of someone who has experienced a certain pain before will never be the same as the caution of someone who has never experienced that pain before. There is only a certain extent to how deeply someone can understand an experience without ever actually experiencing it themselves. Although understanding a lesson without ever having to go through it first hand is possible, it’s usually not very likely and not very effective. Going through something first hand means you would be able to feel and experience every single detail of the situation. There’s no imagining or memorizing involved. When you are given advice based on someone else’s experience, you have to almost memorize the advice in a way to where it could feel artificial or questionable. You have to imagine a situation you have never been in, which makes it difficult for it to be effective. You have to be able to take the situation as seriously as the person who had experienced it first hand.
Imagine a young child playing on a playground or playing with other children for the first time. You can tell them however many times you want about the dangers of the playground or how some kids might treat them, but they’ll most likely never fully understand until they actually experience it for themselves. You can tell a child that it’s dangerous to stand at the edge of a tall playground with no railing, but it’s in their hands whether they realize the significance or importance of that advice. Anyone would love it if they could just avoid and prevent all the mishaps and distress they might experience in their lifetime, but it’s a very difficult task to accomplish. Sometimes you have no other choice but to learn lessons yourself. If you want a true and deep understanding of something, first hand experience is the best thing to have under your belt. And sometimes, first hand experience is inevitable. It just happens, so you might as well see the best in it.
First hand experiences help us build our understanding of life whether it’s learning how to ride a bike or learning how to persevere in life. In many ways, this is more beneficial and more effective than just talking or comprehending these lessons and ideas through other people’s experiences. Some lessons may not be pleasant or enjoyable to learn, but those are the ones that make you stronger. The uncomfortable or unexpected situations you experience throughout your lifetime could be some of the most valuable experiences you will ever have. The people who have experienced these situations before you can be your extra support when you need it, but their words won’t always help you dodge these bullets. Their advice from their experiences can be beneficial, just not as beneficial as actually going through these experiences first hand.