In life we have the good and the bad, simple as that. But is it really?
If you think about it, we need one to have the other. What, you might ask. But every bad experience has been made bad by an experience better than it and every good experience has been made good by one worse than it. So, you see, its one big cycle. Now by definition, experience means, ‘practical contact with and observation of facts or events’. Life is full of these, in fact it’s the only way we can live as humans and learn and understand.
But no one likes the bad, right?
Everyone would rather have good experiences all the time, to always be happy. But if there was no bad, no sad, how would we even know what happy is? Thing is, we wouldn’t. While we might never experience a car crash, never have cancer or never have to lose someone we love, we wouldn’t be happy about these things because we wouldn’t know that they are good things. Think back to a time when you lost a pet. I remember losing one of my dogs when I was in Year 7. And it hurt. I was miserable. But that pain that I felt, I wouldn’t have known what it felt like unless I’d lost her. If everything went our way all the time, we would have no appreciation and would not be able to comprehend the good as being good, as everything would fit that description.
The other importance of bad experiences is that they can help you appreciate the good. Let’s go back to my dog; I clearly remember the night we put her down, all I could think of was how bad this is, why I hated everything, the world in those moments. But waking up the next morning all I could think about were the times when she had been alive, when we still had her. I remembered her when she was young, climbing all over her brother, falling into holes and older when she tried her very best to keep up with us and then raise two little rascal pups who weren’t her own. I would not have seen this good if it hadn’t been for the bad. Now don’t get me wrong, my chest still hurts every time I think about her, but I am able to smile because I know that there was so much good before the little bit of bad.
Now I know that not everyone has an easy life, or the worst thing they have had to experience is losing their dog. Sometimes the bad things outweigh the good. People who cannot live like we do, with clothes and food and a roof over our heads, probably see a lot of bad in the world and very limited good. But when they do get a new shirt, or a piece of bread, or somewhere to sleep tonight it is better than good; its great, its wonderful, marvellous. The more bad we experience the better the good seems. Even those small gestures of good can mean a world of difference.
At this point it probably just sounds like I’m trying to convince you that bad things are good. Which, by the way, is not what I’m doing. The difference between good and bad is one makes us happy and the other makes us sad. Most people would say that they aren’t similar, that there is no way to relate the two. But in fact, there is. Think about this for a second; what does a bad experience give you? Now, what does a good experience give you? Do you see it? They both give you EXPERIENCE. They allow you to understand something, to learn something and to appreciate everything. In reality, they are more similar than they are different. Yes, there are different emotions, thoughts and reactions to them, but in hindsight all experiences are just us learning. We need both in order to grow, but also to understand the other. They work side by side to create life. I mean, imagine a world with neither.
However, the downside is that sometimes the bad can make the good not so good. There are different levels of good and bad, and they can outweigh each other sometimes. While we may still learn something from the good, it may not be as good as we hoped or expected as the bad that came before it outweighed it. Good can also be turned bad by something bad happening after, but once again it is always an experience and we know that there always has to be some amount of good.
Now I’m going to tell you a story, to show you my point. The reason I am here today with all of you is because of a bad experience. I had a not-so-fun time at my old school, which still weighs heavy on me today. I had friends, was going well with school and was happy. But no one likes to be targeted, to be selected to be the prey. But I was, and all it took was one night, and everything went down the drain. At the time, I could think of nothing good. I told myself that over and over again that night that there was no good anywhere anymore. And for months afterwards that’s all I felt. Was that bad, crushing me until it became too much. But you know something? I was wrong. I was so very wrong. At the end of last year, knowing I didn’t have to go back, that was good. Starting school this year and knowing none of you, that was scary, but overall good. Getting to right here right now today is good.
I hated my bad experience. It still makes me sick to think about it. But without it, where would I be? Not here. For so long, that bad outweighed the good. But now, the good outweighs the bad. I have learned from my bad experience, and others before it. I know that I have grown as a person because of them. I also know what happy is, and I am happy right now. I can appreciate what I have and where I am and who I am with. I have learned so much and I know that despite the bad, there is good, and we need both to be human. So next time something seems so bad, reflect on the good you’ve experienced, think about what good is to come. And remember to take something away from every experience you have.