On Making Mistakes: Learning Lessons The Hard Way

Have you ever been in bed, ready to be lifted away by the sandman, and the dream goddesses, when suddenly, every cringe-worthy memory of your life starts playing in you head?  I mean EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. That one time in kindergarten when you peed your pants becomes as vivid of a memory, as if it happened that morning. Or that one time you almost ran a red light, because you were too sick to be driving, and someone honked at you and you started to cry. Oh, just me? Yeah, I thought so. I do not get embarrassed easily when it comes to being around other people. Yet when it comes to moments I’ve been utterly ashamed and only I know, those moments eat me alive. And they really shouldn’t because I’m human, we all slip up on occasion and make mistakes. But even years after the fact, it still bugs me.


Actual picture of me, hiding in shame

I live my life with the motto “No regrets, no resets,” coined by my awesome best friend Alex. Clearly, the message is simple. We can’t “reset” life, so no point in having regrets. Along with that, I also believe that there are “no coincidences, only the inevitable.” That I got from my favorite manga, XXXHolic. It’s not as simple as Alex’s phrase, but basically it means that everything that happens is meant to happen. I just don’t see the point in regretting and wishing things were different; we can’t do anything about it anyway. We just have to make amends, learn, and do differently the next time. That being said, I do not dwell on mistakes. Yet, sometimes they are not as easily to come to terms with.

Currently, I’ve been and will continue to pay for the mistakes I’ve made a few years ago. Cringe-worthy mistakes that make me want to slap myself silly. The time has passed, but I have only yet started to pay the price of my mistakes. I won’t lie, it fucking sucks. I feel so stupid and ashamed of my past actions. I knew better, but did not do better. I feel like I’ve set myself back 30 steps, and now every time I want to take a step forward, I’m being dragged back. Sometimes looking back, I feel so bad I just want to nap it all away. But I’m an adult, I can’t do that.


whisper sectret
Me too, whisper secret, me too

So instead, I reflect. If there is one thing I’ve learned, is that we tend to be 100 times harder on ourselves than we should be. This isn’t to say I didn’t mess up big time, (I did,) but at the same time, I’m not a terrible person for doing so.  My biggest problem is that I always, ALWAYS, want to compare someone else’s journey to mine. Then I want to feel bad because they have done things differently, and are farther than where I am at due to mistakes. When I look at my mistakes, I bypass all the reasons behind my actions and immediately think “You fucked this up.”


I don’t believe in making excuses for mistakes, but I do believe that in order to learn from them, you have to acknowledge why they happened. It has taken me a while to discover the reasons for my mistakes, because I spent so long avoiding them. The thoughts of my mistakes led to that shameful pain in the pit of my stomach. I would lie to avoid talking about them. I would change the subject, or ignore the question. Finally though, I realized I can’t escape my mistakes, no matter how badly I wanted to erase them from my memories. So instead, I turned around and faced them head-on. If my mistakes were a pool, I jumped in fully clothes, cannon ball-style. Although my mistakes set me back, I realized they set a lot of things in motions. They allowed me fall down, and pick myself back up. My mistakes led me to be more conscious of my actions. My mistakes made me wiser, much stronger. I learned that my mistakes don’t define my intelligence, my strength, or what I’m capable of. They do not define me.

I’m not going to look back everyday and feel grateful for the way things have turned out. Some days I am going to wake up, and feel like time traveling to punch the old me. Yet most days, I will realize that there is a reason much bigger than me for why things did not pan out like I would have liked them to. I have to trust myself to right my wrongs, and keep growing. Although second chances don’t exist all the time, they are in motion for me now. And in order to not mess up again, I have realize why I did the first time, and take it one step at a time.


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