No one likes to screw up but if like me you are plagued by the curse of having exceedingly high expectations of yourself coupled with a phobia for embarrassment, it is as devastating as an epically proportioned natural disaster on an unsuspecting city.
My fear of embarrassment is legendary. I have been known to faint and be so embarrassed about it, I pretended to still be unconscious long after I came around. I didn’t open my eyes till I had been safely carted out of the very public space where it happened and secluded in an ambulance. I am that bad.
Last week I made a mistake, a fairly big one and the fall out from my mistake met with me this morning. My instinctive reaction was to smash a hole in a wall and crawl into it. Seeing as that wasn’t a viable option, I sat at my desk, uncharacteristically sober and silent, for the best part of the day.
I am human and by virtue of that, intrinsically fallible. Making mistakes is in my DNA, yet, I haven’t managed to communicate that fact to my brain and deal with it accordingly. It is part and parcel of life and an essential component for growth. You make a mistake, you learn from it, move on and become better for it. That’s the way it should work. That is wisdom. Beating oneself up, especially over an action that cannot be altered, is an exercise in foolishness and futility.
I think my brain is slowly beginning to understand this.
I started off writing this as an outlet for my pent up frustration with myself and the situation. I do this a lot by the way, write to clear my head. But perhaps someone out there needs to be reminded that making a mistake is not the end of the world. The sun isn’t going to stop shining because you cocked up so you might as well enjoy the sunshine.
Sometimes our mistakes are minor. Sometimes they are major, life altering even. Sometimes they are visible, seen and judged by other. Sometimes they are private, known only to you. Whatever the circumstance, it is never productive to beat yourself to paralysis or wallow in it.
So, my fellow error makers, this one is for you;
Make your mistake. Because you will, there’s no escaping it.
Contemplate. Don’t just dismiss it, acknowledge your errors… but don’t dwell on them.
Evaluate. Thoughtfully consider your actions. What you did, what you should have done differently.
Learn. The only thing worse than making a mistake is making a worthless mistake. Learn from it.
Move on. Forgive yourself. Even if no one else does.