On Making Mistakes

On Making Mistakes

I often reflect on making mistakes, mine in particular. I’m a chewer, I gnaw on things, turn them over in my head, again and again. Grind away to the point that I need a mouth guard! That’s probably because I tend towards the perfectionistic which of course is a mistake in and of itself. I’m in awe of friends who can seemingly just move on, accept it, and never be concerned about it again.

I know there is the more Eastern or philosophical approach which says “There are no mistakes “. I find comfort in the idea, hope it to be the case, but probably too Catholic to accept it. My life is riddled with mistakes: big ones, little ones, life-changing ones and incidental ones. For triage purposes, I like to categorize them:

The big whoppers, never to be repeated – knowing very early that it’s the wrong guy, wrong marriage – that took a lot of redoing. Not selling the Bear stock – a really big ouch. Permitting my husband to bully me out of taking a job/s I was intrigued with and wanted – not once but twice! Having a blow-out fight with my daughter about her residency program to the point that she stopped speaking with me – not smart in any way.

The wish I hadn’t done that, not catastrophic – but certainly something I won’t repeat. Oh, so many of these! Changing jobs and knowing on day three that it was a big mistake. Not being politically astute enough to know what was being asked of me, and making an unnecessary enemy as a result.
Overreacting, rather than thinking through issues. It took me time to develop good “corporate” or leaderships skills. I made decisions, comments, evaluations that in hindsight and with maturity could have been more productive and more impactful.

And then of course the laughable ones – the ones the family never let you forget, serving your first Thanksgiving turkey that looked beautiful but was actually close to raw, that ribbing went on for decades! Leaving the keys in the car door when my first daughter was 2 months old – in Manhattan – goodbye car! Locking me out of the house and the baby in the house, albeit in the crib, fast trip to the in-laws for the extra set of house keys. This category is endless!

With age and some acquired wisdom. It all seems a bit silly to me now. All the worry, obsessing, chewing. Nothing was irreversible, (except for the Bear stock) – I learned a lot from all of those mistakes: I learned to keep my cool, not overreact, to listen very closely, observe, accept people for who they are, and would never be, I learned to stretch myself, apologize, and accept that nothing stays the same. I grew a lot as a result of all those mistakes, I am better for them.

So maybe it’s true – there really are no mistakes – just possibilities for lessons learned.

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