Jimmy: I’m proud to have been a United States Marine.
Sally: But you hated being in the Marines! All your letters talked about how much you regretted joining.
Jimmy: Well, yes, those were my feelings at the time. But the Marines is [insert word here] so that’s why I’m glad I joined.
What would be an adjective that describes a group or event that you didn’t like being a part of while you were in it but for some reason you look back on it with fondness?
nostalgicis incomplete because it doesn’t include the feelings of dislike during the event or group being thought of.
Depending on the context, there are many possible words. And, even in the example, it’s not exactly fondness. It’s more of a situation of being glad to have gone through it, in spite of still thinking it was unpleasant. Indeed, a marine is not likely to advise that the training for new recruits be made less tough. Nor that they continuing training be reduced or made easier.
This particular example might be termed a situation where Jimmy did some growing up, a toughening experience or one that made him adult. A maturing experience. It might have been educational, a learning or educational experience. He might also be referring to the honor he believes he earned, so an honorable experience. Possibly he learned that the suffering and humiliations of the training had a purpose, so a purposeful experience. Possibly he is referring to the experience of being part of a larger group, so he may say it was a worthy experience. Or a spiritual experience if he is inclined that way.
A trip to the dentist is not pleasant. Very few people like what a dentist does to them. But they keep going because it’s a necessary experience. Or a medicinal or therapeutic experience.
That is, it depends on the context and the aspects Jimmy is trying to emphasize.