If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this lifetime, it’s that anything I fear finds a way to poke its head up routinely.
If I fear bursting into tears in a difficult conversation, guess what happens? I fight tears all the way through until I explode.
If I fear bombing a speaking engagement, guess what happens? I fumble, mumble and fall flat.
If I fear saying something racially, culturally, gender-ly insensitive to a person I care about, guess what happens? I’m not really present and forget that Frances wants to be called “they” and that Ashley is now Chris and I feel like a dope.
Y’all, I am a mistake making machine. And that is because I am a human being. Human beings make mistakes.
And, here’s the trick, I’ve gotten to the place where I no longer fear making mistakes. I know, right?
Because I no longer fear making mistakes – because I know I am a mistake making machine – rather than beat myself up for stuff I do wrong, I take them as moments for learning. I can appreciate the clarity that comes from a mistake. I can find the illumination. The grace.
And, of course, when I make the inevitable mistake, I know the Aftermath Process: I acknowledge the mistake, I make all repairs necessary (including apologies or restitution) and I make a promise to try my very best to never, ever repeat that particular mistake again.
Many of us fear (that word again) being told we’re wrong. It’s like being called out as the mistake making machine that we humans are is the worst possible outcome.
But it’s not. It’s simply our opportunity to learn. To grow. To do something new.
I will admit to enjoying schadenfreude – delight in the misery of others – just as much as the next mistake making machine. And, yet, I have taught myself to not live in that gloating space.
Because I know that one of these minutes-hours-days-weeks it will be my turn.
And when it happens I want you all to help me acknowledge that I screwed up, help me find a way to repair and hold me to my promise to do better next time.
Because when we hold each other this way, we are building something together, rather than tearing one another apart.
And this is a second thing I have learned in this lifetime.