Experience is an ambiguous concept. We refer to it in similar contexts and use it to either justify actions and decisions, relay our life stories, or to give advice based on what we went through. The term has become more like a place where we go to find commonalities with other humans, but how similar are our experiences?
Every human undergoes multiple experiences. These experiences can be put into different categories as we grow up; from birthdays, graduations and careers to relationships and loss. The concept of experience is like clouds floating in the sky. Each cloud has a label and everyone on earth gets showered with experiences from those clouds. Rain showers who ever is under the clouds, similarly, everyone on earth engages in “experiences”. However, just like some get soaked by the rain while others remain dry since they were prepared and dressed for the weather, experiences are encountered and endured differently by people. Although we find the commonalities within the titles of the experience categories, we relay what we go through with slight or great difference. But there is always a difference that somehow proves that they’re not the same after all. This is most likely due to the fact that every human is configured or wired uniquely. Therefore, when we come across “experiences”, we go through them differently and perceive them differently too. We indulge in experiences with our own unique, personal and self-identifying emotional, psychological, physical, social and financial states, making it nearly impossible to compare the experiences of different individuals. Understanding this is imperative to empathy, imperative to putting ourselves in others’ shoes as sometimes our ego takes pride and whispers to us that we did better when we went through the same “experiences” as others, but did we? Did we go through the same experience in the same way? It may not be the case.
All in all, we are different and although experiences have the same labels, they are truly diverse. When we’re listening to others express their experiences, we don’t need to bring our own experiences to the table too and point out the similarity. If it’s the same, why do we need to tell the story? Well, maybe because they’re not.