If you have followed me for any length of time, you know that I’m a gamer. Therefore, a hooded sweatshirt with the image in the picture was a pretty much an auto-buy. I celebrated my birthday a couple of days ago and wore my sweatshirt when I went to dinner with my family, earning an eye-roll from my oldest son. Totally worth it. *fist bumps self*
However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that growing older really is like leveling up. Role-playing video games, or RPGs, are my favorite. In an RPG your character (or avatar) gains what are call Experience Points, or XP, for completing challenges. Win a battle, gain XP. Find an important piece of information, gain XP. Discover a new area of the world you are exploring, gain XP. Once enough experience points have been accumulated, your character levels up. Each time you level up, you receive points to apply to various skills or attributes such as Wisdom, Magic, Persuasion or Intimidation. It’s important to allocate your points wisely depending on what type of character you are playing. For example, a magic user will allocate more points toward their Magic skills while a warrior will focus more on Strength.
Wouldn’t it be cool if we gained points in real life? Change a diaper, gain XP. Change an extra-stinky diaper, gain extra XP. Survive a nasty divorce with your sanity intact, gain XP. It would be awesome to be able to take those points and apply them to our lives. I’m shy, so it would be great to be able to use points to increase my ability to make small talk in social situations. I know, I know. But, a girl can dream, can’t she?
We may not get points for meeting the challenges in our lives, but we do gain experience and it’s up to us to choose how to use it. Unlike in video games, we get to use the experience we gain from life to help others, not just ourselves. In my opinion, it’s our negative experiences that allow us to help others the most. Someone that has survived the loss of a child is able to come alongside another that is currently lost in the depths of the same experience and help them find their way out. The same applies to someone who has survived an abusive relationship or experienced the pain of a marriage damaged, if not destroyed, by adultery. The list goes on and on. No matter what bad things you have experienced, there is someone else going through the same thing that could use your help. You don’t have to have a degree in counseling or any fancy words. It’s enough to come alongside someone, take their hand and tell them, “I’ve been where you are. I know how you feel. I made it through and you will too. It may not feel like it now, but you will be okay.” Trust me when I say that those words can change someone’s life.
So, here’s to life, experience, and helping others. *raises game controller in toast* On to the next level!