The Worst Mistake You’ll Ever Make

I screw up with shocking regularity. I don’t always do the work I’m supposed to do. I forget to buy eggs. I’m late picking my mom up from the garage. I break treasured mementos. I feed the gremlins after midnight. I say dumb things. I hurt my friends’ feelings. I waste money…(The real list is really long, so let’s just move on, shall we?)

You have no idea how crazy this used to make me. Mistakes were more painful to me than a serrated hunting knife twisted in my gut. Seriously. Tiny hiccups, huge catastrophes, embarrassing mishaps, it didn’t matter. Each one was a crushing blow and a megaphone announcing to the world that I am fallible. For someone who takes herself way too seriously, fallibility is not a valid lifestyle choice.

That’s what trying to be perfect will do to you: it’ll turn every little bump into a nausea inducing cataclysm.

I Stopped the Madness and Quit Trying to be Perfect

In a shiny-new state of scruffy serenity, I discovered the most liberating secret of all time:

The worst mistake you can ever make is viewing your mistakes as a reflection on your worth as a person. To say to yourself: I fail, therefore I am a failure.

No, you fail, therefore you are alive.
You fail, therefore there is more to learn.

Mistakes are the Gift that Keeps on Giving

If you embrace your mistakes and see them for the learning experiences they are, it will have (at least) two results:
·      It will stop the cycle of self-loathing that is making your life suck, and
·      It will give you a reason to get messy and experience the grand adventure that is life.

You won’t ever have to hit the dreaded plateau, because you’ll never be done learning.

The Road Trip Plateau

For whatever reason, we have the unhelpful habit of looking at life as a series of destinations. Our progress is defined by the big moments, the mile markers on our road trip to the grave: first steps, removing the training wheels, first kiss, graduation, career, marriage, kids, grandkids, wheelchair, and last breath.

If your life is just a game of road trip bingo, it’s no wonder your future appears bleaker the closer you get to the end of the list of things to see and do!

With a Little Change in Attitude There is Hope

There will always be more to learn because you will never stop making mistakes.

Sorry, perfection just isn’t going to happen, unless you’re Jesus. (Are you Jesus? If so, welcome and also, please stop wasting your valuable time on the internet. But I digress.)

This is good news! Each mistake is a discovery. The joy of discovery makes us human. So long as you’re human and you keep screwing up, the joy of discovery can be yours. Neat, right?

Let me sum up:
·      You will make mistakes.
·      No mistake is worse than treating your mistakes as personal failures.
·      Life will always be exciting so long as you keep discovering new and exciting ways to screw up.

Have you ever beaten yourself up over failures big and small? Would forgiving yourself and moving on make you feel better about your mistakes?


2 thoughts on “The Worst Mistake You’ll Ever Make

  1. Yes, I still beat myself up over my failures. I know they’re lessons that I need to learn, and I really have learned from my mistakes in the past, but it’s still difficult to accept. It’s like someone telling you that your story sucks when it does. Yeah, he may be right, but it still hurts to hear. That’s life though. If everyone told us what we wanted to hear, nothing would get done and we wouldn’t grow.

  2. I don’t actually know how to get to that place where you stop beating yourself up, Jack. All I know is that I ended up there after a much needed vacation and I had never felt so happy and free. You bet I was (am) still screwing up with incredible regularity, but that heart sick feeling that always followed was just, missing. Maybe the key is to rest, lose track of responsibility for a while.

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