When I was little, I thought I had everything figured out. I thought I knew myself completely, in and out. The concept of losing oneself was as foreign to me as the Arctic ocean. Just like loneliness, it wasn’t a term that existed in my vocabulary. What was loneliness? How did someone come to feel such a strong emotion? Why did they feel this emotion? What was this sadness I could see on my mother’s face when I looked up at her? Why were her eyes filled with tears when we left our beautiful home? I couldn’t understand – what was there to be sad about? When I looked around, all I could see was beauty and hope. Looking back on it, I envy that girl, the naive and sweet girl who knew nothing of the heartaches and struggles she would one day have to encounter. Regrettably, that childhood was stolen much too early in its infancy and she never got the chance to really be a kid, at least not in the way most people would remember. But before this she was a confident girl, fearless and happy, yet she lacked the world view and inner strength of what would one day become her older self.
Mistakes shape us into who we are, they break and mold us. But we have to be strong enough to rise above them. The first time I made a Mistake – and I mean a pretty stupid one – I felt my whole world shatter. I was ashamed to have done such a thing, I felt that this wasn’t me. How could I? Who was I? My confidence was gone and I cringed at my own reflection in the mirror. I had become, in my view, worthless. The bottom of the barrel. But at the time of making that particular mistake, I had thought that I was acting out a side of me I had never considered before. It turns out I wasn’t being myself at all, but I didn’t know myself enough to know that I wasn’t being myself. And in that moment, the moment I sat alone, abandoning myself, deciding to give up because it wasn’t worth it, concluding that nobody loved me, a light shone through. I had made a mistake. That’s all it was, a mistake. Did it define me? No. Of course not. Was it worth punishing myself for it? No. Did it matter what others thought of me? Absolutely not. The lesson I’m trying to teach you here is that in order to learn who you are, you will need to make mistakes and perhaps even lose yourself in the process. And that’s okay because without mistakes you will not be able to truly grasp who you are as an individual. But tell that to the younger me and she won’t have a clue. “Yes,” she’ll say, “Of course I know myself!”
Mistakes are vital for self improvement. Take mastering the art of writing fiction. You are not going to be a perfect writer from the get-go. But if you don’t make errors and you don’t accept those errors, how will you improve? Mistakes are part of the learning process. Toddlers make mistakes. Teenagers make mistakes. Even successful people will tell you that they’ve made mistakes time and time again. Mistakes don’t have to define you, not if you don’t let them. Just like success, it’s how you rise after falling down that really determines what kind of person you are. Forgive yourself. Take your errors as a learning curve. They are nothing more than a stepping stone in helping you become the person that you want to be. You are stronger and better now because of it and every day is a chance to be a new person. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, give yourself a brand new slate and start over.
So will you allow yourself to be held back by past mistakes? I reply with a firm and resounding no.
Thanks for reading. And please remember to forgive yourself – we all make mistakes. Have a great day! Nina. XOXO.