Sunday, April 24, 2011

Learning From Your Mistakes

We've heard it time and time again that we learn from our mistakes. It's 3:03am and I just went on a thinking spree about it. Just getting it down in writing before I forget.

When I was a young girl, I strived to be little miss perfect. I always wanted to do the right thing (when people were looking) and I hated coming short of anyone's expectations (adults mostly). I was praised a lot for being the good girl. And I loved it. I absolutely loved the positive attention I got (although you probably wouldn't have known it at the time because I was ridiculously shy).

What shocked me to the core was when I moved to here to New Zealand and went to school. I was usually on task and the teachers were proud of me. However, there were times (of course) when I'd make a mistake and they'd address that problem and they try to direct me back on track. I was stunned at how much attention they gave to all my wrong answers. I was insanely embarrassed that they'd point it out. I now know that's what they're supposed to do. Better my work. But at the time, I felt like I was a miserable failure. It was horrible. I barely responded when they asked me questions about fixing my mistakes. All that was going through my head was "oh my goodness Laura, you got that WRONG."

Even through Intermediate School I hated having these conference sessions with my teacher when she'd point out my weaknesses and try to figure out a way to improve it (of course she'd talk about the positive, which outweighed the negative, but I didn't care. All I heard was "You're not very good at..."). I'd give her this wide eyed look of fear (I couldn't really hide my emotions that well) and she tried to reassure me she wasn't angry or attacking me, but I sure did feel like she was. Oh how wrong I was.

I had some serious issues with trying to be perfect. I couldn't take constructive criticism. I thought to myself that making mistakes was the stupidest thing a person can do (and I didn't want to be stupid). But it's not. Something stupider is thinking that mistakes were unavoidable and I had the ability to do everything right all the time (at least, when people were looking).

But that's not right is it? Mistakes are inevitable. The learning from them part is what we should focus on. It's always good to learn from other people's mistakes but there will always be your own. This is something I never fully grasped. I thought that I shouldn't ever disappoint anybody. Ever. So when the time came where people pointed out my imperfections, I was paralyzed.

One big lesson we get from all our mistakes is how to not take criticism to the heart and instead, focus on improvement. This is something I've started to learn only recently. Something else I've learned is that I'm not perfect. But that's beside the point. I've heard a saying that "perfection is not a destination, it's a direction." Constant mistakes allows for constant growth (as long as it's not the same mistake twice). I guess we learn this lesson at our own point in time and I think my time is now. 

Yes, I thought all of this at  3:03am in a matter of about one minute. It took me way longer than that to put it in words (that hopefully make sense).
I'm in great need of sleep now. 


  1. Amene.

    It took you 33 minutes to get this from cognition to written word. I love it I do!

    "Mistakes are inevitable."

  2. "Losing is inevitable. Just don't make it a habit."

    From the movie "A Good Year"...I had just finished watching it in when I read this, funnily enough.