I've made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I prefer to call them "learning experiences."
I once texted a guy friend, "Have fun with that loose vagina." He left a birthday to get down with a girl that I didn't care for. In my drunken cab moment, speech slurred and motor skills impaired, that was the harshest insult I could come up with. Bonus points for creativity and novelty? If I hadn't been such a mean girl, made the decision to slut shame, and openly say “loose vagina,” perhaps that very insult could have slipped out at a future moment in my life, when I would face more substantial consequences. Perhaps I would have wished ill upon an evil member of the PTA board, embarrassing my future children. Perhaps I will have a future gay son who will support me saying, "You can take your hydrogenated oils and loose vagina elsewhere, Mrs. Canales!" Or perhaps said future gay son will be entirely grossed out by my mere mention of female genitalia. Perhaps perhaps. In closing, I am thankful that I got the "loose vagina" out of my mouth in my 20s.
I am by definition an experiential learner. Only by engaging myself in a certain situation am I able to learn, grow, and move forward. Most of the time anyway. I don't need to make the mistake of accidentally shooting someone to know that guns are killing devices. I did need to shit my pants to learn that detox pills and clam chowder don't mix.
Mistakes have a bad reputation. They are seen as downfalls, signs of weakness. I believe that so-called human error is merely a part of being human. We, as a society, tend to dwell on mistakes and fixate on the past. Replaying situations in our minds, we beat ourselves and each other up, “What could I have done differently? Maybe I shouldn’t have said that? If I weren’t so stupid, I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in now.” Nothing we think, or do, can ever change the past; this is a hard truth to accept. The positive power of mistakes lies in our ability to fully take advantage of the opportunity for growth. “What is this situation teaching me? What can I do to prevent this from happening again in the future? What would I do differently? How can I better control my automatic reaction, and more effectively respond?”
If one never makes mistakes is he/she truly living life to the fullest? Without learning experiences, is a person still pushing boundaries and going beyond the comfort zone?
I don’t regret my mistakes because they have helped me understand valuable lessons that have molded me into the person I am today. These learning experiences also make for entertaining stories. The only regret I have is inaction, my inability to take the first step for fear of mistakes. I have a tendency to get lost in thoughts of planning and preparation, realizing hours later that I have yet to take the first step. I encourage you today to start whatever you’re thinking about, whatever you’re scared to do. Do something. Do anything. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. Allow yourself to take the first step. Let yourself be human af.