It was Christmas, 1998 and I had received the most awful gift ever: a stuffed cat that breathed and purred. This cat was completely phony, with bristly orange and white fur, a pink plastic nose, and fishing line whiskers, but the worst part was that it was petrified into the sleeping position. Curled up into a tiny ball, this dumb cat toy had a plastic plate on the bottom with an on-off switch and a hole for two AA batteries. I assumed it was boring; all you could really do was stare at it. It didn’t move and it wasn’t cuddly. My sisters and I considered it in the top three worst gifts we’d ever received, next to my Furby, which was similar to the sleeping cat but more obnoxious, and a Limited Too gift card at age fifteen. I forced a smile and insincerely said “thank you” to my aunt. On the way home, my mom tried to convince me that I might enjoy it, but I disagreed.
When we arrived home that night, my sisters were laughing hysterically, making fun of this sad toy. They insisted that the toy be placed in our living room for all to see. It remained in the main room of our house for years, a constant reminder of that Christmas Day. Our real cat hissed at it, the dog tried to eat it, and it was a huge hit. Everyone who came over noticed the cat and questioned it, and we’d always try to trick them into thinking it was real. Our little orange cat, whom we never named, became a family joke, and though my sisters would never admit it, I think we all had a special place in our hearts for the fake cat.
Unfortunately, almost ten years later, our bogus kitten purred its final purr into the trash can. It was like a death in the family. I missed it when I came home to visit from college, and we could no longer joke about it. Contrary to my initial belief, the cat did a lot more than I had assumed. While I thought it simply purred in a frozen position, my family got extremely creative with it. They put it in funny places in the house, let the dog wear it as a hat, and were always finding new ways to make me laugh.
I believe in admitting when I’m wrong. At first glance, I thought the cat was a toy to just stare at. In my head, the only purpose it could serve was to play the pet when my friends and I played house. My family, however, showed me that it could do much more. It could be entertaining. The word “wrong” often has a negative connotation, bringing to mind thoughts of weakness or poor education, but to me, being wrong is simply a method of growth. Each of the mistakes that I’ve made has helped me learn the answer more thoroughly than if I knew it to begin with. I admit that I have been wrong many times in my life. In high school, my first impression of a girl named Sarah was that she was annoying. Sarah, however, ended up becoming my best friend. Similarly, when I was a kid I thought I hated avocados, and I avoided them as much as possible until a friend forced me to try a bite. To my surprise, I loved it. Though these errors are trivial, admitting that I have made them has helped me learn through experience, assuring that I will not repeat my mistake.
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