"The Sum of Experience" by Dr. Susan Nettleton

     We are who we are because of what we have experienced.  Whether we see the things that happen in our lives as an out-picturing of our inner states, or whether we see ourselves as continually controlled by external forces, our identity is shaped by the life we have lived.  Our personalities are the composite of our life experiences and those experiences are fundamentally unique to us.  No one else in this world has had the same set of experiences we have had. 

     We can share laughter or sadness with others because our circumstances are similar enough to understand how another feels.  We see in younger people elements of our own former youth.  We see in our contemporaries the same aggravations as well as a shared appreciation of life.  We see in those who are older a foreshadowing of our possible future.  Yet at the same time, the combination of events in our lives makes us absolutely unique. 

     We are one of a kind.

      Learning to value who we are means learning to value all the events that have taken place in our lives up to this moment, even when we have yet to understand or forgive.  Making peace with ourselves means making peace with our past.  Being grateful for who we are now, and who we are becoming, means being grateful for the flow of life events that has given birth to us.