Somewhat of a Memoir, FIVE: Mistakes

MISTAKES are mostly just practice. If something doesn’t work out, try again or try something else entirely. Some of the best things in life are mistakes. I once in an indoor soccer game was going for a goal and hit the crossbar fourteen times. I can’t remember if I ended up actually getting one in the net or not but it made the team newsletter. “Ashlinn CROSSBAR Parsons” read the heading above a paragraph describing how in a miraculous feat I had had the whole gymnasium aweing (literally with every subsequent slam of the ball against the upper post there was an echo of spectators saying “awww” harmoniously). That was over twelve years ago and I still can’t believe it happened and it only grew more comical and outrageous the more it happened. An unfortunate situation became a good laugh between my teammates and me. I understand if it sounds suspect or you don’t quite believe it. I actually remember it as being maybe sixteen times but I prefer to be cautiously modest as even at fourteen it was so extraordinary I’d rather underestimate and be conservative rather than over-exaggerate and subject it further to skepticism.

Mistakes are great learning opportunities. They are some of the best ways to figure things out and in some cases the only way we learn. Trial and error is an effective tool, albeit sometimes expensive in terms of time, money, energy, and resources. The process of elimination and figuring out what we don’t want or what doesn’t work can be a gateway to really zoning in and figuring out what we do want and what works best for us. You’re bound to make a lot of mistakes when you try anything new. Hopefully if you are lucky enough you can find a guide or mentor to help you along the process and the more practice you get in something, or knowledge and information you acquire at the beginning can greatly help you in those first stages of trying something novel, but you are never the best at something until you have made, and corrected, every mistake possible.

Most of the time our mistakes don’t define us. Try not to live with regrets. Hindsight is 20:20 and there are forsure all things we’ve done that we wish would have gone differently, from the very small scale to the very big life path determining decisions. There will always be at least some choices the result of which will haunt us forever, but you have to learn to learn from your errors. Allow these flaws in judgement to help you appreciate what you had when a loss is involved, respect differing opinions and feelings when there is a relationship at play, and honour yourself in moments when you were best-intentioned and doing things from goodwill.

When failure is done right it makes us change. And yes, there is a right way to fail. Failure can potentially create a shift in you to think, look at, talk about, or try something in a new way. Those who escape failure are creative and resourceful. Those that make the best out of a bad situation are resilient and from my observation (note: not personal experience) are the happiest. I tried snowboarding. I fell a lot. I laughed at myself and had an après-ski hot chocolate by the fire. I’m not completely bad at not taking things too seriously. As in this case it’s especially easier the more distance we get from the situation, and an aspect of humour is largely very helpful.

I think there should be two different words for mistakes that are just people making accidents and mistakes that are straight up people doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons and explaining it away as if they had just done it not on purpose and call it a mistake. Ignorance is not innocence. There is a big difference between being short-sighted and downright selfish but even I’m no saint. I am working on realizing that sometimes doing and saying nothing can be what gets the most accomplished, to not instigate, test boundaries or be provocative and confrontational. It’s a work in progress. I’m especially not exempt from the hunger to want to really drive a point across. I think we are all allowed our lower moments, hopefully few and far between and better for them, but for the most part we need a sounding board who isn’t afraid to call us out on our negative behaviours and be honest enough to tell us when we have crossed the line. At least I do.

There are mistakes in rare and severe cases as well as in simple everyday life that you can’t come back from. Things get broken, used, severed, and lost. This is unfortunately the inevitability of life. Second chances can be a blessing and most things if not in the same shape or form will come around again. I’m not completely immune to it but I think it is really sad when you are scared to give, have, trust, try or love again. It’s difficult to say I know a world where redemption and rehabilitation is possible for all of us and this is an idealistic belief yet somehow I believe it of myself, I have to. I often ask myself how my negative and detrimental habits are more curable than anyone else’s even if more subtle than the extreme cases.

I live with some major regrets and though they weren’t all completely within my control I have to take some kind of responsibility. There are absolutely things I wish I could change and repair. I would say I’m a fair part more unsatisfied with my life than I could ever fathom to be proud of. The voice inside my head says I’m a failure but one thing I can feel somewhat good about is that I have never stopped trying, even when I don’t quite know how to explain my past or tell a neat history of my life. I’m always just doing what I can even if this is less than good or what is expected of me. I have higher hopes than this being the best I can possibly be. I consider myself flawed in major ways and sometimes it’s downright hard to like myself, especially lately. I have made very costly mistakes that I haven’t completely forgiven myself for. For some reason I feel that if I let myself off the hook for them then I will stop learning from them. This might not be the healthiest way to go about things, I acknowledge this much.

“It’s going to hurt because it matters.”

 

This quote is a line from one of my favourite novels by John Green. The mistakes that matter are the ones that stay with us the longest, and the ones that hurt the most but often the ones that shape us more than others into who we are. I know this sounds contradictory: mistakes don’t define us but they shape us. We must keep in mind that there are always consequences and punishments that determine our future circumstances. Nobody is ever exempt from making monumental, meaningful mistakes that sometimes affect us for the rest of our lives. I think mostly if you make decisions in terms of your benefit without making anyone else suffer, this is a good rule of thumb to go by.

People do and would ruin everything without rules. Luckily we live in a time and place where the enormous abuses of power and status are finally being brought to light and with this we can hopefully come up with a moral code and justice system to enforce accountability and make everyone feel more safe and equal. While we iron out the details of what is acceptable and unacceptable it’s going to hurt a lot of people but it’s really important that we go through the growing pains and make a clear outline for these things to make sure we all behave accordingly and are held to the same standards. Fear doesn’t make us make the best decisions, but it should at least scare us out of making a lot of stupid ones.

Some mistakes are really, really hard to forgive. Some are malicious, some are mindless. Most are mendable. I feel like it would be hypocritical of me to say I can recover from my mistakes but there are people out there who are beyond help. If the rest of their lives is determined by decisions they made in the past then who am I to say I am better than I was before and I will keep improving and shouldn’t be judged based on my history? I think I have made considerable effort to make sure I can sleep peacefully at night and that I have tried to conciliate with all those I have been at odds with. The biggest mistake is not trying to make amends.Your chance is never up. The longer you wait the more time you waste. I promise you that the only thing worse that living with regrets, is dying with regrets.

xxo

Ashlinn

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