This I Believe

Emily - Moraga, California
Entered on December 27, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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People have admitted, over time, that it is alright to make mistakes. I would go further to say it’s fantastic to make mistakes. But what some resent, I accept as a gift in life. I believe in the power of mistakes. No one enjoys messing up, but everyone does, and we are better for it. Everything happens for a reason. The reason for mistakes is to keep us humble and teach us lessons in life.

Mistakes are the wake-up calls when we oversleep, the potholes in the road to remind us that all is not smooth. We humans generally think we always know exactly what we are doing. But often we need a reminder that, in fact, we are not perfect. My reminder comes from my sister, who I neglected when she was younger and looked up to me. My mistake in taking her for granted now helps me appreciate the joy and responsibility of having a sister.

Sometimes we only oversleep by a couple of minutes; sometimes it’s an hour. Some potholes are just little bumps to ensure we’re paying attention to the road, yet others are cavernous holes to alert us when we’ve gone the wrong way. But in showing us what we did wrong, our errors point us to what is right. When asked about his many failed attempts to make a light bulb, Thomas Edison said, “I did not fail. I found 2,000 ways not to make a light bulb.”

My mother likes to tell the story of her driver’s test, which she failed because she forgot to check her blind spot before changing lanes. Even now, she is one of the few adults I have seen who checks her blind spot every time before changing lanes. If she had checked it and passed her test that time, I would bet that she wouldn’t be as safe as she is today.

Mistakes are like broccoli. They may taste awful, but they are the food which builds healthy bodies. You have to eat your broccoli before you can enjoy your cake. We need errors and blunders, or else we will never know what we are doing wrong, and we’ll never get better. It’s not easy to see how our biggest disasters help us at first, but they usually turn out to be the events that teach us the most. Mistakes become our catalysts for improvement. On my water polo team, we use the word ‘redemption’. Whenever we make a mistake, our coach challenges us to redeem ourselves by learning from what we did wrong and doing it better the next time.

It is impossible for me to begin to count how many mistakes I have made in my life. It’s scary to think that the future holds even more. I don’t look forward to getting things wrong, being humiliated and living with bad decisions. Nobody does. What I hope to remember is that these are just vegetables, and I’ve got dessert waiting on the other side.