One Mistake I Will Never Make Again

Kristen - Lititz, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 23, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

An ancient proverb goes, “By ignorance we mistake, and by mistakes we learn.” This implies that you always learn from any mistake that you make. However, I do not believe that this is the case. Mistakes cannot be learned from if the person behind the mistake does not care about the outcome. Because of their indifference to the situation, that person may never learn anything from their fault.

One day, my mom took me to a department store. While browsing in the accessory section I saw a beautiful hair band that I could not live without. It was pink, my favorite color, and I did not have anything like it! I knew my mom probably would not buy it for me, but I had to have it! After a little deliberation, I decided to take it. I made it all the way out of the store until my mom noticed that I had something she did not buy. I promptly got marched back into the store and was made to put the lovely hair band back. One would think that the humiliation of being dragged back through the store by my angry mother would be enough to keep me from stealing ever again– but it was not. On another shopping trip, I saw something else that I absolutely had to have. It was a gorgeous bracelet made out all different kinds of shells that fit me perfectly. My dad had said before we left the house that we weren’t going to buy anything extra on this trip, so I knew that asking him was out of the question. But, I decided to slip it into my pocket and take it home anyway.

Although I was still young at the time, I knew better. I had made the same mistake before and had gotten in trouble for it, so I knew it was something that I should not be doing. However, I did not take the time to think through what my actions would cause. I did not bother to learn from my mistake the first time, and so I just kept walking out of the department store, bracelet in hand.

In order to make the old proverb true, I think there are some qualifications that should be made. Not everyone learns from their mistakes, but I believe that intelligent people do learn from their mistakes. They are able to take the situation, look back on it, realize what they were doing wrong, and then never do it again. If it is truly a mistake then clever people will have the dignity to realize that they were in the wrong, and repair their actions for the next time. In that moment, I did not have the intelligence to piece my previous actions and consequences together with taking the bracelet. But as my dad took me back into the store and made me apologize to the manager by myself, I knew that it was one mistake that I would never make again.