Childhood experiences shape the core of who we eventually become.
Even (or especially?) the unpleasant ones.
They influence our beliefs, values, and character.
In fact, early challenges can serve as building blocks for developing resilience.
On that note, if you had these 7 childhood experiences, you’ve probably built a strong character.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that.
1) Handling loss
Experiencing loss during childhood can have a profound effect on who you become as an adult.
Losing a loved one who passed away leads to confusion, grief, anger, and insecurity.
While it may take time, children who face loss often develop emotional strength and a deep understanding of resilience later in life.
Additionally, loss isn’t limited to the death of someone close.
Children can also be deeply affected by losing a friendship or a big opportunity.
People who experience loss in their early years learn to navigate complex emotions, seek support, and find healthy ways to cope with grief.
These early coping mechanisms can become ingrained and contribute to effective stress management in adulthood.
2) Navigating change
Closely tied to loss, change can also be tricky to handle during your formative years.
If your childhood was marked by frequent changes, such as moving homes or schools regularly, you likely developed a capacity to adapt to new environments.
In today’s fast-paced world, the ability to cope with uncertainty is a testament to a strong character.
Truth is, life is inherently unpredictable.
The capacity to adapt allows us to plunge into the unknown confidently, embracing change rather than resisting it.
An individual who was exposed to change from early on has certain advantages:
- They are more flexible when encountering obstacles
- They are quicker to bounce back from setbacks
- They have experience regulating their emotions and can make informed decisions under pressure
- They often have a growth mindset
Figuring out how to adapt isn’t just a survival skill; it’s proof of your resilience.
3) Dealing with adversity
Growing up facing adversity – financial struggles, family issues, or personal hardships – can instill a resilient spirit.
I was born in Romania two years before the fall of Communism. And while I never worried about my next meal, our family was far from well-off.
My parents worked long hours and barely made enough to get us from one month to the next.
Throughout childhood and adolescence, I frequently eavesdropped on conversations surrounding (our lack of) money.
Trips to the thrift store were the norm, treats were for special occasions only, and traveling was rare.
While this wasn’t always easy to stomach, it taught me how to make do with less.
As an adult, I made a lucrative career in freelance writing, but I was laid off from a long-term job I loved early this year due to budget cuts prompted by the ongoing cost of living crisis.
Cue uncertainty, anxiety, and the dissolution of my savings.
Which finally brings me to my point.
I keep seeing videos on social media from people struggling to make ends meet during this crisis despite having jobs that earn them “good” money.
These aren’t videos from people who experienced financial hardship throughout their lives.
Rather, the loudest complaints seem to come from individuals who lived a relatively comfortable existence until recently.
It made me realize that their problems don’t stem solely from being unable to afford as many things as they used to.
They’re also tied to them literally not knowing how to make do with less.
The first thing I did after losing that writing gig was to cut my expenses. I kept an eye on deals. I stopped traveling, eating out, and buying stuff I didn’t need.
These things came naturally to me because they are ingrained in the fabric of who I am.
I didn’t have to think twice about them, and they never seemed like the end of the world.
All due to my family’s early financial struggles.
But to someone who has been used to a certain standard of living, suddenly being forced to make similar adjustments must feel like a shock to the system.
That’s where resilience should come in.
4) Overcoming failure
Dealing with failure during childhood can also help you develop a strong character as an adult.
If you had to confront your limitations and face rejection, you likely have a healthier relationship with setbacks.
Embracing failure as a learning experience instills persistence and courage.
Do you know what happens to someone who has been shielded from failure most of their young life and constantly celebrated as an overachiever?
They become the grow-up version of Rory Gilmore.
I’m a big fan of the series, and I assure you – she’s not someone you should aspire to be.
5) Taking responsibility
Having responsibilities from an early age, such as caring for siblings or contributing to household chores, can lay the foundation for dependability.
It also helps you build a robust work ethic.
These two qualities are fundamental to having a strong character.
I already mentioned that my parents worked long hours. As a child, this meant I spent a fair amount of time alone.
I don’t have siblings, but I had to learn to care for myself.
I was in charge of doing my homework, I helped with chores, and I fed myself whenever they weren’t around.
This early autonomy contributed to a sense of independence.
Now, I know I can always count on myself, and I’m much more resilient for it.
6) Interacting with good role models
Challenging experiences aren’t the only ones that help you build a strong character.
Having positive role models during childhood also impacts your personality.
Their guidance and support can help children cultivate perseverance, integrity, and a strong moral compass.
If you grew up with positive role models, whether at home or at school, you likely saw them as examples of desirable behavior.
You observed and began to mimic their way of conduct, something you might continue to do today.
Through their actions and words, they encouraged you and built up your confidence.
Remind yourself to thank them if you still have the chance.
7) Indulging curiosity
Were you the kind of child who asked millions of questions, loved to get lost in a book, or broke things apart to learn how they function?
If so, you probably grew into a resilient adult, and your curiosity enables you to keep up with the times.
When indulged, inquisitiveness and a thirst for knowledge at an early age can fuel the habit of lifelong learning.
That means you now actively seek to understand and explore new concepts, ideas, and experiences.
A habit that serves you well, enabling you to see roadblocks as opportunities for growth.
There’s a good chance you also have an open mind and above-average problem-solving skills.
Not too shabby.
While each person’s journey is unique, certain childhood experiences have the power to mold you into someone with a remarkably strong character.
So much so that it may be time to stop looking back in anger.
Having a childhood marked by hardship was undoubtedly challenging, but it also made you the resilient individual you are today.
An individual who perseveres rather than gives up easily.
And maybe someone who inspires others to do the same?
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