It’s OK to make mistakes

Close-up with KC Ejelonu

Email: Twitter: @kcejelonu

KC Ejelonu QEDOne thing in life that is certain is that we will make mistakes. Even for those of us that strive for perfection, we will still flounder and make errors in judgment from time to time. Instead of getting down on ourselves for not being perfect or for making errors, we should use mistakes as stepping-stones in our earthly education.

We learn from mistakes

From birth, we begin learning about the world around us. It’s a process of exploring, trying new things and collecting data about everything around us. Grass is soft, but rocks are not. Eating too much candy will make us sick. There are consequences —good or bad — for our actions. The best way to learn is to experience life for ourselves and learn the natural consequences of our actions. This does not mean that we have to try everything to know better. After we develop critical-thinking skills, we can also observe the mistakes of others and see where their choices lead or anticipate possible outcomes. This can help us avoid major mistakes that can change the course of our life.

When we know better, we do better

Making a mistake is not the end of the world. It just means that we can correct ourselves and start again. If you’ve hurt someone, apologise. If you’ve done something wrong, make it right. After realising the error and making amends, learn from the misstep and avoid making the same kind of choice again. When we get the wrong answers on a test or on homework from school, we can see where we went wrong and understand the correct answer. Similarly, we can reflect on our choices and learn the right way from our mistakes.

Your best is good enough

Forget trying to be perfect, and just do your best. Mistakes will still happen, but that is normal. Stop comparing yourself to the people at church, neighbours, friends, family members or co-workers. You may think they are perfect, but everyone has their flaws, regardless of how good they are at hiding them. Perfection is unattainable while doing your best is a reachable goal. Mistakes will still happen. As long as you do your best, you are on the right track.

Don’t be hard on yourself for making mistakes

Sometimes, it’s easy to be self-deprecating or self-loathing because of poor choices we have made. This is counterproductive. Realise the mistake, make amends and move on. Focus on what you have learned and pat yourself on the back for correcting the wrong. Leave the past in the past and look forward to making better choices in the future. Wallowing in guilt will only open the door wider for more poor choices. Learning from our mistakes is the most important part. We can change for the good as we learn from our misjudgements. Have patience with yourself.

Mistakes are essential for our growth and understanding of the world and ourselves. Whether it’s our mistake or an error of a family member or friend, we need to realise that it does not make us, or them, bad people. We can learn, grow, change and start making better choices. Wrongs can be made right, and we can become our best self as we learn to be patient with ourselves. Remember, everyone makes mistakes, and it’s normal. We can change. We can learn and make better choices.