When I was about six years old, I was determined to ride a bike. I envied my sisters atop their big shiny, pink, Huffy bicycles. I wanted to be like them, gods of the streets, zipping off to the far reaches of the neighborhood, while I stayed home. But when I first tired, I just couldn’t do it. I got fed up and threw down my bike with the little blue training wheels and cried all afternoon after scraping my knees on the hard concrete. Finally my mother took me in her arms and told me that if I just kept trying to improve, I would succeed. It wasn’t the greatest speech she would ever make, but at the time it was more inspiring than Martin Luther King Jr. to my six-year-old self. So I took those words to heart. And for weeks, every day after school, I practiced and practiced. Until one day, those training wheels came off, and I made my wobbly way down the street and turned the corner without scraping my knees. From that day forward, I knew that striving to improve was the only way to succeed, even if I wasn’t really sure. Six year olds seldom are.
Everyone fails. It’s something we have in common. Even Thomas Edison, the great inventor of the light bulb, knew that he could fail. But he failed gracefully, he put a spin on his failure, much like myself in an argument. “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” Many people know this quote, maybe not directly, but in one way or another. The story has been exaggerated all the way to millions of ways he failed, but no matter what way you look at it, this shows in a wonderful way that nobody’s perfect, but we should always learn from our mistakes.
Imagine a world where everyone was perfect. That kind of world is one that I would not want to live in. Yes there would be no problems, but there would also be no arguments, no competitions, no changes. And how boring would that be? In my idea of “perfect” world, nothing would be perfect. Everything would change, through failure and discussion. Without failure, we cannot grow, we cannot learn. Without failure, nothing would change. Nothing would ever improve; no moving on to bigger and better things. Just the same old, same old.
Failure is learning the hard way for a reason. It’s hard to learn you’re wrong. No one wants to admit defeat. I know that better than most, I cling to dying arguments with every fiber of my being, even when I’m clearly mistaken. And sometimes I’ll argue almost any point, just for the sake of arguing taking pleasure as the devil’s advocate. I love to take the counter-argument, for the benefit of my opposition. When I realize I’m wrong, I change my reasoning. I change why I’m still arguing that way I won’t have to admit defeat. Yes, I still argue and in a way, I, like so many others before me, will not say that I’m wrong, but merely save myself and not my position in the nick of time. I do this often with my two sisters, but I learned it from my mother. When I was younger, if I wanted something, I’d have to argue my point and argue it well. But no matter how right I might have been, she would argue right back. Even if my point was that the sky was blue, she’d sit there trying to make me believe it was green. But if I was convincing enough, she’d let go do whatever it was that I desired so much to do, because when you ardently make your point, it makes you understand it and makes you appreciate what you are doing a whole lot more. And so I argue to strengthen other people’s views, and show that even though they might be right, their idea is never perfect and can improve no matter how perfect it may seem at the time. Everything can always be adjusted and made better, especially an argument with my mother.
Admitting defeat may be the most important part of failing. To be able to accept the fact that you’re wrong, and to lay down your fist and say that, is one of the hardest things to do. Admitting that your impeccable judgment has been declared false, is just a hard thing to accept. But people who can understand and admit that they are wrong, are special people indeed. Anyone who can take a step back from a situation, and think, ‘hey, maybe they’re right, maybe I should rethink this,’ is the kind of person most people should strive to be like. When people can admit they’re wrong, they can learn and gain from the experience, instead of holding a grudge and ignoring the main focus of a debate. The world would be a better place if people could admit when they are wrong, and learn from their mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone learns from them.
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