Good judgement comes from experience. And experience comes from bad judgement.
Rita Mae Brown
We’re too hard on ourselves, I think. We expect to be great at things way too soon, and we beat ourselves up when we make mistakes. But that’s not how life works. You don’t pop out on your zeroth birthday fully trained as an attorney. You can’t even walk. You have to spend a lot of time learning what it takes. In fact, even when you know what you need to know mentally to do just about anything, without putting in the practical time doing it yourself, screwing up, and then adjusting for next time, you will never have the depth of experience you need to be really good at it.
Mistakes are nothing to be ashamed of. They show us what we need to learn. They prove that we’re human. And they are going to happen whether you like it or not. You might as well get used to the idea that you are going to spend a fair amount of your life discovering, admitting and rectifying your mistakes. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to cover them up or lie about them. The relief you get from that is short-lived, and the guilt and complication that lying brings can last your whole life, depending on the mistake.
I grew up somehow thinking that I was supposed to be good at things straight away, or that I wasn’t going to be good at them at all. Finding something hard was like admitting I would never be able to do it at all. Much as my parents tried to make sure I learned the value of hard work, I still managed to convince myself that things should be easy, that I should just ‘get’ them straight away. The trouble is, the further along you go in school, the more you get into things that are by their very nature difficult. I found it harder and harder to make sense of the material we were studying in my degree and I didn’t do as well as you might have predicted from my earlier school career. I put this down to my attitude to learning – that I should be able to pick things up straight away. But it just doesn’t work like that.
Anyone who is any good at something had spent a whole lot of time doing it. They’ve probably made more mistakes than you have. But they didn’t let it stop them. They know that nobody gets it right every time, but if they learn from the mistakes they can get it right now than they used to. And if they never give up then they can get it right more than most people.