A Lesson Learned the Hard Way, Is A Smack in the Face

Derek - Fort Collins, Colorado
Entered on October 9, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe in striving to learn from our mistakes.

We all too often make mistakes that hundreds of people have made before us. If we don’t learn from them, what makes us better than the last guy? I believe that if we see the importance of the outcome of our mistakes, we can become better people.

When I was a senior in high school, my mom made a very costly decision. She decided to drink and drive after having “one too many” at the bar. While she was driving to her boyfriend’s house, she hit a teenage girl. Of course, nobody knew this at the time, but this accident changed my mom’s life for the better.

My mom has literally changed her life around from the time of this accident. She has become much closer with our family, she doesn’t drink alcohol anymore, and she has been a speaker at numerous alcohol awareness events. She learned from her mistake, and it made her a better person, but I couldn’t follow her lead.

Just about two years ago, I underestimated “one too many” at the bar. Luckily, I didn’t hurt anyone, or myself for that matter, because I was pulled over for speeding. Although nobody was physically hurt due to my ignorance, the outcome definitely opened my eyes. I almost lost my job in the military, which I worked very hard for. I lost the respect of my colleagues, friends and family, a certain respect that is lost forever. It was a lesson learned the hard way, and it was a smack in the face.

I no longer drink and drive, and I believe that I am a better person for the mistake that I made. Who knows what might have happened if I hadn’t been pulled over for speeding that night. I might have hurt someone else, just because I neglected to do what I knew was right. Even knowing the consequences of what might happen, and dealing with the stress directly, didn’t stop me from disregarding what had happened in the past. Today, I live to learn. Not just my education, but I make a stronger attempt to learn from the little things. I believe that you can learn just as much from changing the oil in your car as you can from a horrible accident, as long as you know what you’re looking for. For me, sometimes it just takes a little courage to say, “I think I can do that better.”