life tales

coping with mistakes

8 May, 2016

When I graduated my undergraduate degree and started my first “grown-up” job, I quickly learned a simple but critical lesson; I have a great deal to learn. In fact, to this day, the more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know. 

Unfortunately, one of the best ways that I learn is through making mistakes. Unfortunate in the sense that I have to make the mistakes in the first place. As someone who is constantly fighting the innate perfectionist within, this doesn’t sit well with me. In fact, I would tend to catatrophise even the smallest mistakes. We’re talking even making a little typo in a draft or an email to my boss. Don’t get me wrong; I made much bigger mistakes than these, which cost unnecessary time and resources. But it was not the size so much as the notion of making a mistake at all that really bothered me. 

Not only is this kind of thinking self-destructive, but counter-productive. 

The fear of failure can lead to a fear of trying. And to try is to live. 

I will never enjoy making mistakes. But my attitude towards coping with mistakes has changed dramatically over time. The best way that I have found to cope?  

Stay Positive. Forgive Yourself. Learn. Move on. 

Making mistakes when you have tried is ok. They are bound to happen – that’s the joy of being human. The greater issue is not being willing to learn from mistakes and being too scared or, even worse, too proud to admit them. 

Try to do what you can to make things right. And if you cannot do it in your own strength or if it is a big mistake, own the error and reach out. Always remember that you are not the only person who can learn from your mistakes. 

English poet Alexander Pope wrote, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”  

Forgive others for making mistakes. But more importantly (and definitely more difficult for me) forgive yourself. I truly believe that a mistake that you have learned from is not a waste of time. 

I will always be one to try my hardest to give my best. But even when I do and my heart is in the right place, I will still make mistakes. In the kitchen. At uni. At work. When driving. With people. In my writing. And in life. 

But I’m starting to be ok with that. Because the mistakes that I make don’t change or define who I am. 

Always remember that. 

xx Liz 

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6 Comments

  • Reply Cassie 10 May, 2016 at 1:20 am

    It’s a given that we all make mistakes but because we subconsciously hold this huge need to be perfect and to attribute ourselves to external and internal expectations, we prepare ourselves to fail. We need to truly listen to our spirits and fulfill our souls from within, and accept what we already have and build upon it before seeking to impress others.

  • Reply Kristy at Southern In Law 10 May, 2016 at 6:36 am

    I totally understand where you’re coming from on this. I tend to be a perfectionist too and I ALWAYS used to freak out over the tiniest of mistakes, until I realised that I’m not perfect and I’m not supposed to be perfect – it’s only natural that I’m going to make mistakes sometimes.

    Whilst I think you should always try your hardest, I know that I’m always going to make mistakes here and there – but that’s okay! Not only do they remind me that I’m not perfect, they give me a lesson to learn from as well and remind me of the areas I need to work on. If I made a mistake because I was rushing or stressed, I know I need to focus a little more on being patient or trying to relax and so on.

    • Reply Travelling Table Tales 10 May, 2016 at 6:18 pm

      Exactly. I found so much freedom when I discovered that. I made a small mistake at uni recently that had fairly big consequences… but my feelings and reactions were far more practical and far less dramatic than what they would have been a few years ago. I definitely took the opportunity as a learning experience, rather than a personal reflection on my failures. It’s so freeing not trying to be perfect. xx

  • Reply Claire at My Pink and Green Life 12 May, 2016 at 11:31 am

    This is so, so accurate. I’m still in the thick of getting over my perfectionism in college and the fear of making a mistake or failing at something has definitely caused me to both not take risks that I wish I had or to try too hard to do things perfectly, at the expense of my mental health. It is far better to go into things acknowledging that you’ll make mistakes whatever you do and to not be afraid of it, just like you said. You’ve written so many posts that are SO applicable to my life recently, Liz–thank you for these encouraging words! <3

    • Reply Travelling Table Tales 13 May, 2016 at 8:46 am

      Claire, I can completely relate to you in so many ways. I am glad that these words are an encouragement. I have loved following your story and know that there are such incredible things ahead for you. xx

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