How experiences shape who we are

How experiences shape who we are
How experiences shape who we are

About two years ago, my family and I visited the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. Having never seen a place like that before, it was an eye-opening experience for me. I had read about the horrors of the Holocaust and had even visited places such as Anne Frank’s house. However, I had never actually seen what happened to the Jews after being taken away by the Nazi soldiers.

How experiences shape who we are

The Leadership of Our Hearts

By Aarushi Ganguli

Everything is an experience. When we wake up in the morning – that is an experience. We wake up in a different way with a different thought every day. Our daily lives, even if we do the same thing on a regular basis, is an experience. 


At the Dachau concentration camp, I saw the documentation of horrors that would make anybody scream and of things people in this day and age don’t know exist or existed. The vast empty space gave me a chill as I looked on and saw, in my mind’s eye, several thousand Jews lined up, being treated worse than animals. This trip gave me a perspective on life and how we should be grateful for everything we have, not knowing when or where something drastic might occur and how we should always remember that as bad as we feel, there is someone out there suffering much more.
Experiences like these are what shape who we are as a person today. We tend to judge someone on their personality and interactions, among others, right now. However, we don’t realize that we must consider their experiences and what they have been through their entire lives. 
We also must understand that what most people show on the outside hides their real feelings. The prettiest smiles hide the deepest secrets, the prettiest eyes have cried the most tears and the kindest hearts have felt the most pain. These emotions have been formed because of the amalgamation of experiences that each person has gone through up till now.


We form our opinions around each experience we face and conquer. All the bad and good experiences shape our stereotypes or how we see certain people. But these also make us stronger if we come out the other end emotionally and physically healthy.
I have seen other places like this concentration camp and other testimonies of horrors from – and similar to – the Holocaust. But being there and visiting these locations first-hand gave me a sense of what people can take on.
The human capacity for anything physical and emotional, be that pain, love, happiness or any other emotion, can all be traced back to the experiences we had growing up.
I learnt to feel happiness when I was smiling and laughing with my friends in elementary school. I learnt to be humble when an opportunity that was very prestigious came upon my path and everyone was talking about it. All these experiences have shaped who I am today. Many people have experiences that teach them certain lessons. We, as humans, have a tendency to think that we are always right. We are not. However, we cannot accept this without life teaching us a few things.


I learnt from my visit to the concentration camp that to living in a place where we have our own rights and we get to make our own decisions and are, for the most part, not discriminated due to race, religion, language or gender is something we should not take for granted. 
What scares me the most was that Hitler and World War II took place not that long ago; it hasn’t yet been a century, and the fear that something that inhumane might happen again leaves me with a sense of dread for what may happen in the future. The emotion of fear can make us go down paths that we later wish we hadn’t. However, fear is a powerful emotion – and the only thing that can defeat it is a sense of hope. These emotions can make us experience very different circumstances in the same way or the same circumstances in a very different way.


Mindset is everything. It usually shows us each person’s worldview, and if it is growing or fixed. But how we perceive the world is all based on our experiences. We say people with a fixed worldview are very narrow-minded and are not at all open to new opportunities and experiences. We, however, never stop to think that that person has might have had some experience that has stopped them from seeing the world as it is.
Mindsets, we say, are related to our personality and sometimes our emotions at the time. This is most likely untrue. Mindsets are a culmination of all the experiences we have had. Bad experiences tend to generate a negative mindset and good experiences tend to generate positive mindsets. However, experiences can be both good and bad. Bad experiences can make a person see things in a way that makes them hurt people. It makes them ‘see red’ and they need someone to tell them that what they are doing is not right.
We think different things every day and those thoughts lead us to have very different lives from each other. If we all had the same thoughts, we would all be having the same experience. This will not happen anytime soon, as we each have individual thoughts that make us different. 


Experiences shape who we are today. They are also a culmination of everything we have been though in life. We take everything for granted and we should make sure we appreciate the things around us more often. So the next time you experience something, remember that the person you are today is shaped by the experiences in your past and one of these can change your perspective on life. Next time you are anywhere worthwhile, put down your technology and experience it wholeheartedly, because you never know if an experience will change you.

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How experiences shape who we are