Fact of the matter, we all make mistakes. Every damn one of us. Some more than others, but on any given day, we’ve all probably made a multitude of mistakes.

A couple days ago, I picked up two glasses with one hand at the same time. One fell and broke. Glass everywhere. I hate that. Big mistake. In the big picture of life, not such a big mistake.

“I can’t turn back time,” I said as I stared at the shards on the ground. All there was for me to do was to pick up the large pieces, sweep up the smaller pieces and mop up the area. That glass was done.

It didn’t affect anything more than the fact that I lost time to clean it all up, and that my mental well-being in the moment was disrupted, as I was concerned that I’d miss some glass and my children would get hurt on it.

Other mistakes don’t even appear to be mistakes until years later.

Back in high school, there was this girl who was very unpopular. Everyone made fun of her, or at the very least didn’t defend her when she was made fun of.

I didn’t remember this, but apparently we’d taken an arts & crafts class together in our pre-kindergarten years, when things were different and we hadn’t yet learned to be horrible to each other. We went to different elementary schools and were never in classes together in middle and high school. She stopped me in the hallway one time and said hi.

Awkwardly, I said “hi”. I was very uncomfortable. I wasn’t a popular kid, but I wasn’t at the level of unpopularity of this girl. We all feel our precarious social status in our teen years, and worry so much about what others think and I had not yet learned not to care.

She brought up those arts & crafts days and I stared at her, blankly. Truthfully, I don’t know if I remembered it or not. It seemed like a lifetime ago, and I had barely remembered that I had taken the class. But I could have made a girl feel better and told her I didn’t remember it much, but yes, we had fun. Instead, I told her I didn’t remember her at all. I turned away before she could say another word and walked down the hallway.

I felt vaguely guilty at the time, but put it out of my mind. Years later, I recalled that moment and realized what a mistake that was. I needed to be better.

When I was a young newspaper reporter, I had a group of friends. Like any friends, we’d sometimes be catty about other people. There was one reporter my friends didn’t like, but I’d known this person for years. We got along fine, even though we weren’t best friends or anything. One day, she shared her imposter syndrome with me.

In my effort to ingratiate myself more with my friends, I shared that with them. The moment I did, I knew I was wrong. It killed those friendships because they – rightfully so – felt they couldn’t trust me anymore because I’d violated someone else’s trust.

I don’t know why I did it. I just knew I couldn’t turn back time and un-say it. I couldn’t tell my friends they should trust me, because, well, I’d just proved to them they couldn’t. Even though I’d never violated their trust previously.

Didn’t matter, and I knew it.

We make mistakes. Some are bigger than others. Some hurt other people, and some hurt only ourselves.

The only real mistake here is not recognizing our mistakes and trying to do better next time.

Photo by Ken Whytock via Flickr Creative Commons.

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