A lot of the time people get caught up in the belief that doing something twice will mean you receive the same experience. When I decided to study abroad again at the same University, I couldn't even count how many times people asked if I was expecting to do the same things I had last time. It took a while for people to understand that the reason I was going back wasn't so I could relive an amazing semester I had in autumn 2012, but yet I was hoping for a completely different experience; my bucket list was full of the things I DIDN'T do on my first trip, and ideas of new ways I could expand, grow and explore a place I'd already been. If you believe that doing the same thing means it will have the same outcome or results, you are automatically signing up for inevitable disappointment and failure; no matter how hard you may want to re-create or relive an experience, it isn't possible. And why would you want to live in past experiences when you have the opportunity to establish new ones?
Another problem with "repeating" experiences is remembering negative connotations or outcomes associated with the last journey or event. When we dwell on those bad experiences, they seep into our present lives, causing us to think that trying something again that we previously failed in will have the same end result; we let those fears hold us back from picking up the broken pieces and finding a new way to make it work. For instance, the first time I tried out for majorettes, I didn't make the squad. I was completely devastated, as most 15 year-old girls usually feel after rejection, but the next year I was able to embrace my fears and give it another chance, fully aware that I might fail again but knowing there was an equal chance of succeeding. Terrified and more nervous than my first try-out, I was the best version of myself in the gymnasium even though it wasn't a perfect routine; I showed the judges that I wasn't willing to give-up on something I loved, even though I had faced failure in the past.
The joy about doing something twice is being given the opportunity to recognize your growth. After coming back to Stirling, I can say that this experience has been 100% different from my last trip. This semester I've noticed how much I've changed since my first time here, which may have been something I wouldn't have picked-up on if I didn't come back for a new experience, remembering my first experience. To think that I am the same person I was on my first semester abroad would be insane; I look at the girl and ask "what the heck was she thinking?!?" Growing up means growing into the person you were made to be, day by day, month by month, year by year. Whether it was a past failure or a past success, our personal development isn't limited to a negative or positive journey. Regardless of the situation, time equals change, and it scientifically cannot be denied. When you are about to embark on a trip or involve yourself in a situation you've faced in the past, it is best to enter the situation with a blank slate. But if you want to set goals for yourself, don't base them off your past; instead, create them as a way to build-up your future self.
This summer I will be returning to Camp Ligonier, a past experience that has shaped me into the woman I am today. As much as I may wish I was working with the same staff or would have all of the same campers or would re-live all of the funny memories from 2013, I'm so excited and expectant to see how else I can grow as a leader, a friend, a role model, a woman and a follower of Jesus. I have no idea what this summer has in store for me, but that is the beauty of having a blank slate. I can use the wisdom from my first summer as a counselor to help me be a leader toward new staff members and also further establish a comfortability and vulnerability in sharing my faith and life experiences with others.
Be open; be vulnerable; be expectant; be willing; be trusting; be motivated by faith.