Life is made up of moments. Most of the life we live, we don’t remember. Even if it's stored somewhere on our mental hard drives, retrieving most memories isn’t in our ability. What we do remember, on the other hand, are the moments that impacted us most.
We remember the things that change us most in life, which is why we remember our first times better than we remember anything else. The bigger the first, the greater the influence, and the more it changes your life.
Most of these experiences we can’t possibly understand without experiencing them ourselves. We can imagine how we might feel, but we can’t actually know.
We almost entirely only know and understand what we experienced firsthand. You may find that these 18 experiences are unlike what you imagined they’d be:
1. True failure.
It’s one thing not to win, not to achieve your goal, and it’s another to give it your all and still fall short. True failure isn’t losing; it’s losing when there’s nothing in the world you want more than to win.
When you really put in that effort and realize you just aren’t good enough, that’s true failure -- you won’t understand it until you experience it.
2. True love.
Just about every human being to walk the surface of this earth has done his or her best to put love into words, to portray it accurately enough for an individual who has never experienced the phenomenon, to understand it -- and, for the most part, failed.
Love is a little different for each person, but the intensity of romantic love we all share. It’s an intensity that can only truly be understood through experience.
3. Losing a loved one.
Life is incredibly short. Days, weeks, months, years, fly by at the blink of an eye. When time comes for a loved one to pass on, the experience is significant.
While our emotional responses may vary, coming to understand how fragile life really is, is always a bit of a shock.
4. Being in a situation you can't escape.
Whether being physically or psychologically abused, the experience is one you can truly only understand firsthand.
We can all imagine how it may feel to be in such a situation, but understanding the sort of reality that such an environment allows for is beyond our capabilities.
It’s very difficult to fully understand another reality without ever accepting it as your own.
5. True heartbreak.
Just as magical and beautiful as love is, heartbreak is the polar opposite. Having your heart broken is both something you can’t understand until you’ve experienced it and something you can’t forget once you have.
Emotions overflow -- emotions you never thought you were capable of feeling.
6. The pride of being a parent.
I’m not yet a parent myself, but I have seen how parents' eyes light up when their daughter or son accomplishes some sort of an achievement. To parents, it doesn’t matter how small the achievement.
Even their kid getting dressed on his or her own for the first is usually cause for celebration.
It must be a complex sort of pride as you’re both proud of your child and proud of yourself for being that child's parent.
7. Finding your passion.
The focus. The hunger. The drive. It’s easy to understand the feelings associated with finding your passion in life, but you can’t possibly understand how those feelings make you feel without feeling them yourself.
8. Working your butt off to achieve your dreams.
I remember being younger and thinking to myself, “I’ll work my butt off until I’m a success, no problem.” Well, I didn’t realize how difficult it could get.
Even if we understand how difficult it can be, finding yourself at the end of your rope, having failed over and over again, running out of money, running out of credit, and the stress that comes with it all, it still isn’t something you can simply imagine.
9. Not fitting in.
Some of us are social butterflies. Others just aren’t. Some of us are predominantly introverted, loners. Some others aren’t introverted at all, but just can’t seem to find people they click with.
Not finding a place in the world where you feel like you belong is a unique and depressing experience.
10. Not having real friends.
To be fair, there are plenty of us who don’t have any real friends and simply don’t know it -- or aren’t willing to admit it.
Either way, the loneliness that comes when the only thing you need is a shoulder to lean on and there isn’t one sight, is definitely eye-opening.
11. Working a job you despise.
We all seem to think we can manage to work whatever job we need to, without really being bothered by it. We tell ourselves it’s worth it for the money. Or it’s worth it for all the free time it allows for.
But at the end of the day, working a job you despise will eat you up from the inside. It may take time to do so, but it’s inevitable.
12. Living a life you love.
Living a life you don’t love for too long makes even the thought of living a life you love feel like an impossibility. Your reality gets warped and your expectations, lowered.
If you’re wise and lucky enough to create for yourself a life you’re proud of -- a life you look forward to living every single day -- the relief you’ll feel you won’t be able to be put into words.
13. Proposing or being proposed to by the right individual.
I’ve never had a chance to propose, but I can imagine it going one of two ways: either time slows down and the realization hits you -- the realization that you’ve found the love of your life and are going to spend your lives together -- or the whole experience passes before your eyes, the realization not being able to catch up with reality. Either way, it must be a rush.
14. Finding the one, but not being ready for it.
Heartbreak is one thing... finding the person you should spend your life with, but not being capable of loving him or her the way he or she deserves to be loved is… I honestly don’t even have a word for it.
15. Realizing you wasted the last X years of your life.
I don’t like the idea that "everything happens for a reason." Not everything happens for a reason. We can, however, make what happens the reason we learn not to repeat the same mistake.
You can do a million different things with your life before you figure out what your passions are -- just as long as you are learning from each experience and using that knowledge to get you to where you want to be.
Wasting your life is possible. I don’t know what that must feel like and I never plan on finding out.
16. Realizing you made a horrible, life-altering mistake you can never reverse.
We all make mistakes -- some small, others huge. When it comes down to it, if you can’t change it, then there’s no point in obsessing over it.
You make sure never to make the same mistake again, but beyond that, you move on with your life. Or at least that’s the goal. It’s not always that easy unfortunately.
17. The realization that your time has come, your role in this world has come to a conclusion.
Technically, not all of us will have a chance to experience this moment. Not all people realize they’re dying when they’re dying.
If you do, however, get to experience that once in a lifetime moment, it must be pretty intense. Or maybe not at all... you never really know.
18. What comes after.
If you had a chance to know the answer to one question -- any question -- I’m pretty sure 99 percent of the people on the planet would want to know what comes after death.
Then again... out of those people, more than half wouldn’t have the guts to ask. What comes next after we kick that bucket is life’s greatest mystery.
But don’t go and rush to the end. You’ll get there regardless of whether or not you’re trying.