This might just be out of the fear of getting in trouble growing up, but I always hated making mistakes. It’s not even like my parents beat me or anything, so who knows where the fear even came from. I’m not even kidding – just walking by the principal’s office in school would scare me.
I once had a teacher who joked about sending me to the office, and I almost cried because I thought he was serious. The most trouble I ever got in at school was skipping a study hall for free cookies. Long story short, I grew up an only child with a perfectionist mentality and was never grounded in my entire life.
Yes, I guess you could say I grew up a “good girl.”
So when it came to making mistakes, it was something I always wanted to avoid. Although, I learned quickly that making mistakes is a part of life, and sometimes you cannot avoid it. But rather than beating myself up over the errors I made, I took each one as a learning experience. Whether its relationships, school, or even work, mistakes are going to be made, and I found the lessons I learned in all of these life aspects made me a better person.
Today, I get very real about my failures and mistakes I’ve made, which shaped me into the stronger and more confident person I am today.
Practice Makes Perfect
Before talking about my real life experiences with failure, there’s one thing that I believe helped me grow beyond my fear of making mistakes. And that is I grew up dancing ballet; one of the strictest dance styles. In ballet, I continuously practiced until I would get the combination right. When I made mistakes, I would start over until I got the combination perfect. I’m used to constructive criticism and a ton of practice because of ballet, which only made me better. The same goes for everything else I do in life, but it took me a little while to learn that life is the same as a dance combination. All I have to do is take the constructive criticism and work on being a better version of myself regardless of the mistake or failure.
Relationship Failures Helped Me Find The Right Kind of Love
There’s no manual for relationships or love, and neither is the same every time. The people we become romantically involved with certainly teach us a lot about ourselves. One thing I learned about myself from past relationships is that I need to be realistic. I found myself in a couple relationships where our lifestyles didn’t match, or my friends did not like whom I was dating, but I wanted to do my best to make it work anyway. Another thing I learned about myself from past relationships is I gave too many second chances, which was exhausting. I’m not here to point fingers (that was done enough in the past), but there came a time when the other person continued to say “I’ll do better,” or “It won’t happen again,” and I kept making a mistake by believing them. These errors led me to a few more mistakes, which only hurt me in the end.
But even though these relationships weren’t meant to be, and mistakes were made, I know exactly what I want I want in one now. I don’t look back on these relationships with regret because each one taught me something about myself and led me to the exact kind of love I want in life.
School Failures Led Me to a Career I Excel At
I grew up a pretty average student. And when I say average, I’m talking, “Rebecca Howe, Regents” being called at my high school graduation after a lot of brilliant people were listed with honor societies and scholarships under their belt. My SAT scores were nothing to be proud of, I took an IB class that didn’t even benefit me in college, and I didn’t get accepted into the college I initially really wanted to go to (which I never wanted to admit to anyone because I was embarrassed). These small, careless, and trivial mistakes made me think more about what I want in the future for my education, as well as, what kind of student I should be.
I kept finding myself “trying” hard, but I felt life kept getting in the way my first year at college. Life kept getting in the way of giving my undivided attention to the classes that needed it most. I started working my first job the week before I started my first semester at college. Since I felt like I couldn’t say no because I wanted my managers to think I was willing to work, I worked almost 30 hours+ on top of my first full-time college class schedule. Now, I have friends that worked more than this and still went to school full-time, so I’m not saying it can’t be done, I’m saying I didn’t know how to handle it at first.
I realized in the middle of the semester that there was no way for me to pass biology, but I just wanted to stick to it. I remained optimistic because I thought I would do better, but that never happened. I received my first ever F in a class, and it was a major wake-up call because it was a class I needed to do well in to continue on into the physical therapy program I wanted to be in.
I was so ashamed that I didn’t tell anyone, but I definitely like to think I got my life together after that. I took the class again, got an A, and even replaced some other average grades with A’s because I couldn’t live with bad or average grades anymore. If I were to leave those grades on my transcript, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. I take great pride in the wake-up call I got from that biology class, which pushed me to work harder than ever.
Along with failing a class in college, I had to sit at a table where an advisor straight up told me, “There’s no place for you in this program.” I walked out of that room completely crushed because I realized I needed to find another dream and path in life.
The good news is I found a new one. It took me a little while, but I found one that I’m really good at. Struggling to stay in the medical field was a mistake that led me to an excellent college where I put myself out there in clubs, graduated with honors, and found a really great career.
I understand college isn’t for anyone, and I was scared that maybe it wasn’t for me, but I had too much determination (and expensive taste) to give up on my life goals. If I am going to give out any sort of advice, it is always going to be “Don’t be afraid to start over,” because that’s exactly what I did, and it was a great decision.
Work Mistakes Made Me a Better Listener and Questioner
One thing I learned at the workplace is if I am trying so hard to do something right, then I end up making a mistake. Also, I realized saying I understand something when I don’t is a big mistake. Saying I knew how to do something and finding Google couldn’t even help taught me a big lesson: listen to understand and ask as many questions as possible. It makes all the difference to succeed in the workplace.
I think making mistakes with my perfectionist mentality actually helped me. It helped me in the sense of making better decisions, paying more attention to detail, and gave me the ability to perform efficiently. Even though making mistakes still bothers me, I know its a part of life.
From relationships to school to work, I found that even though I couldn’t bear the thought of failing at something, I needed to in order learn. All of the failures and mistakes in my life led me to a life of success, making me more confident and wiser.
Have you ever made a mistake or failed at something that benefited you in the end? Tell me about it in the comments below! 🙂
This post was originally published on Feb. 27, 2017, on rebeccalhowe.wordpress.com.