“The greatest mistake you can make in life
is to be continually fearing you will make one.”
I’ll just tell you up front: I hate making mistakes. Actually, more accurately, I hate admitting I made a mistake. I know this is holding me back in life—it makes me less likely to step outside my comfort zone, take risks and be honest with myself and others.
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never
tried anything new.”
For me, there are a couple of levels of mistakes: The first I’m only a little bothered by: when I’m learning something new and therefore can’t be expected to “know it all” (yet), or when it involves something that doesn’t matter much to me. Mistakes like this seem “acceptable,” even to my perfectionistic little soul.
“Mistakes are the growing pains of wisdom.”
The second, more difficult level, involves mistakes made when I “should” know better or when something matters very much to me. In the first instance, when I make a mistake it only reinforces the fact that I am, indeed, human. (I don’t know why this is so difficult for me to feel comfortable with!) In the second instance, when it’s something that matters to me, the stakes seem higher. For example, I find it excruciatingly painful to admit I’ve made mistakes parenting, as I most certainly have. (And I especially have a hard time admitting this to my husband—why is that?!)
I seem to want to keep up a façade of being, if not perfect, at least nearly so. By this time in my life, I feel I should be competent, intelligent and accomplished. The mistakes I make just show me how very far I have to go to be the person I want to be.
“Good judgment comes from experience,
and experience comes from bad judgment.”
—Rita Mae Brown
In theory, I know the importance of mistakes. I know that without risking mistakes, I will learn nothing, and completely cease any kind of creative or spiritual growth. Denying mistakes makes them impossible to correct, hiding mistakes simply causes them to grow. It’s just the practice of accepting and admitting mistakes is so hard!
Maybe my resistance to admitting mistakes has something to do with my ongoing battle with perfectionism, with always wanting to do things “right,” with the sometimes impossible standards I aspire to. I simply can’t be a brilliant writer, loving wife and mother, caring friend, perfect homemaker…you get the idea. I’m afraid admitting a mistake in any of these areas only draws attention to the ways in which I believe I fall short.
I wish I had some profound lesson to share with you about how admitting my mistakes has made my life richer, but I’m just starting to see the extent of my resistance to this topic. I can only tell you that this is now something I hope to stay aware of and work on.
How do you cope with mistakes? What have you learned from them?
“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include
the freedom to make mistakes.”