Many argue that our experiences and circumstances define us. They claim that incidents and events intrinsically become a part of who we are and how we live.
The real issue is that others project their own perceptions and judgments regarding another’s experiences, and either do not know, do not care, or do not understand what circumstances that may have led to them, and instead, simply choose to identify and define people as such without direct inquiry.
And in doing so, a person is bullied, persecuted or extorted into becoming what he or she is not.
We must reject that, and not declare that for others.
A person is rarely the sum of an incident or experience, but more so of his or her reaction to them. Unfortunately, the public tends to suffer amnesia regarding a person’s identity, accomplishments, years of personal history, and personal interaction, which is likely a better characterization of the person prior than a single moment or event in a person’s life later.
An honor student who fails a class is not a failure, but a person that did not study or seek help; a champion of women’s rights who is raped is not a victim, but someone who was victimized; an intelligent and creative person who is unemployed, overwhelmed with bills, and bankrupt, is not poor, but someone who lacks an opportunity.
On the other hand, when we, who are being defined by experience, accept that as our truth, we fail to grow or gain the lesson we were meant to learn. Ironically, some may even falsely think the lesson to learn was merely about the actual incident itself and not possibly about the people involved, elements surrounding it, or even the thinking, or decisions, in general, that precipitated it.
An incident or current circumstance is not a permanent identity caste system. They are, however, unfortunate detours. They place us in undetermined locales.
Some become lost and never find their way back, unfortunately carving out an existence and reality within the confines of other people’s declarations. They embody and embrace their mistakes and otherwise take ownership of victimhood. Life for them becomes and is characterized by one static and stagnant moment in time.
While others, who learn or realize they are meant to take advantage of this space, pause, re-evaluate, plan and regain focus, are subsequently able to move forward. They do not forget their experience, but use it constructively to develop emotionally, overcome trauma, combat personal demons and end generational curses.
Ultimately, the realization that our circumstances are where we are and not who we are offers us the blessing that we can leave behind all that has harmed us.
Eric Christopher Webb © 2017
The WordsByWebb blog distributes a weekly quotation and reflection every Tuesday from National Black Authors Tour bestselling author and multi-talented writer Eric Christopher Webb (E.WEBB?!) to inspire, motivate and encourage personal development of its readers. The blog also regularly shares news, updates, new poetry and excerpts of the writer’s latest work. Webb, a spoken word artist, former Washington News Correspondent for Thomson Newspapers and nationally-syndicated Soul Searching columnist, has also been featured in movies, music videos, commercials and literary documentaries on HBO, BET Weekend’s Evening of Spoken Word, BET’s Rap City, Video Jukebox, The Party Machine, The Learning Channel, Voice of America and XM Radio. He is the author of five books, including "The Garvey Protocol: Inspired By True Events," a 2013 Phillis Wheatley Book Award Finalist for First Fiction and the National Black Authors Tour bestseller, "Love Letters, Death Threats & Suicide Notes." He has also contributed to numerous anthologies, journals and magazines.
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