Earlier this week I spent several hours at a World War II museum with a member of an author group for a textbook I work on. It was great to go through a museum and see and experience history through the eyes of an acclaimed historian. He made a comment half way through our visit though that really stood out to me as a life lesson:
As I tell my students all the time, if you don’t know where you’ve been you can’t tell where you’re going. That is the critical feature of history, that it shapes everything. And unless you understand the forces that shape the present, there is no way to understand it, let alone repeat it.
My personal history, and especially the last 16 months of my life has truly shaped a lot.
It’s shaped who I am today.
It’s shaped my perception of the world around me.
It’s shaped my family relations.
It’s shaped my professional trajectory.
It’s shaped my vision of my future.
Because of all I’ve been through to this point – because of what I’ve seen, and where I’ve been … I know how to survive what comes at me in the future. To paraphrase the author – I understand the forces that I’ve dealt with in the past, and so I can be confident and sure in shaping my future.
Dealing with mental illness is not fun. Let me be the first to assure you that I’m not having fun with this … but it’s something that I feel like/want to believe that I am in the driver’s seat with. It is a blessing to have the support system that I do. Like I’ve said before, Bipolar is a blessing (and a curse, but that’s not what we’re on about right now) in how it lets me see the people and the world around me.
I know what has shaped me, and because I understand that I am able to get through so much more than if I didn’t. Because I know where I’ve been, I can survive.
Because I can survive, I can live well. And that’s what I consider winning.