Don’t get me wrong.
I don’t love making mistakes.
But I love mistakes themselves.
Mistakes are great mentors.
I usually hate mistakes when I’ve just made one (especially if other people notice) but then I start learning whatever cool new lesson it has to teach me, and everything shifts.
At that point, I fall a little bit in love with mistakes….all over again.
For the past couple of months, I have been successfully guarding a slip of fortune cookie paper from the sharp and eager beak of my parrot, Pearl.
The fortune reads:
It was when you found out you could make mistakes that you knew you were onto something.
Yet for most of my earlier years, I didn’t realize mistakes were okay….allowed….expected, even.
I didn’t think any of the people around me ever made mistakes.
I didn’t think I was supposed to make mistakes either – not if I was living right.
Yet mistakes kept happening, all the time and in so many ways.
I made mistakes about what I ate (or didn’t eat), what hobbies and classes I pursued, what friends (and boyfriends – don’t get me started on this one) I chose, what I wore, what I said, and what I did.
For a time I thought that I myself was a mistake.
This was the most painful time in my life to date.
When I look back at the nearly six years since I founded MentorCONNECT, the eating disorders mentoring community I run with a group of dedicated recovered folks, I see sooooo many mistakes….many of them my own.
In fact, it is tempting to call MentorCONNECT’s success a miracle – so amazed am I that it survived all the newbie, naive mistakes I made.
Looking back at my journey to recovery from anorexia and bulimia, and then later depression and cyclical anxiety, I see mistake after mistake.
In my relationship with my family, my best friends, my partner, I can see many, many mistakes….especially the ones with my name on them.
Yet I am still here.
MentorCONNECT is actually thriving. My family and I are close. I have a group of amazing and supportive long-time friends who are like extended family. I have a new growing family of animal lovers with whom I share news about my precious pets – ups and downs, discoveries and challenges, and most of all, the joy of animal companionship.
None of this could ever have happened without the realization that mistakes – the permission to make them, the opportunity to learn from them – are pure GOLD.
Without mistakes, I would not have the parts of my life I cherish most.
Without giving myself carte blanche to make the necessary mistakes, I would still be all alone in a room with only my eating disorder for company (if I still survived at all, that is).
This is why I love mistakes.
Today’s Takeaway: How has making mistakes helped you create a life you really want to wake up and live? If there are areas in your life that seem to be “stuck” or just not working in some way, could permitting yourself to make a few more mistakes get things moving in the desired direction once more? What is your relationship like with your own mistakes – and the mistakes of others?