This I Believe

Levi - Monument, Colorado
Entered on December 11, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: setbacks

This I believe…

No person that has ever lived a full and healthy life has gone through it without making a few mistakes, whether relatively small, or life-altering. The word “mistake” has a negative connotation, but mistakes can be turned into a helpful experience, not only for the person who made it, but for mankind in general. I believe that the most important thing about the mistakes that people make is not what they are, who made them, or how big they are, but how the people who recognize the mistake treat it in the future, and whether they ignore the mistake, or use it to incite change in their own lives and the lives of others.

When I was in the 6th grade, and eleven years-old, I made a mistake that literally changed my life forever. During a spelling test, my over-stuffed binder started slowing drifting open. I used the opportunity that I thought was rightfully handed to me, and looked at the first page in the binder: the words from the test. I was caught by the tenth word, and punished. Of course, at first, I was mad at everyone around me. I was a C student and thought I deserved a little break every once in a while. As the days went on, though, I started to look at it with another prospective. My parents helped me realize that this was a major turning point in my life, and I had two very different roads I could pursue. I could continue to win dishonestly, barely scraping by, for middle school, high school… life. Or, I could look at this mistake and the ones I had made in the past, and use them to change myself into a completely different person. I didn’t like the other road, and who I would become if I continued cheating, so I worked. I worked as hard as I could for the rest of middle school, received a 100% on the next test the honest way (rather than a 0% the dishonest way), sincerely apologized to my teacher and principal, and soon, my grade average went from a C, to a B. Next semester, I started at a solid “A”, and haven’t dropped since. I have never consider being dishonest with myself or my teachers in class work since that test in the 6th grade. I had the sense to take one of the worst errors I’ve ever made, and make it into one of the best things that could have happened to me. I can honestly say that without that mistake in the 6th grade, I would still rarely do my homework, not care about “just scraping by”, and probably still cheat.

Often, people don’t pay attention to mistakes, and let them happen again and again, which is a waste of a perfectly good mistake. If people are willing to make errors, but not learn anything from them, then evolution within society cannot occur. People will be doomed to an endless cycle of un-needed pain and hardship. The moment we try to push away the negative marks on our personal or societal history is the moment we stop remembering how bad these events were, and is the moment we may passively, and perhaps even subconsciously, begin turning back towards the mistake and its consequences.