Why You Shouldn’t Fear Mistakes

There are far more positives to making mistakes than there are negatives. Here's why you shouldn't fear making mistakes.

Growing up, I had this incapacitating fear of people finding out I couldn’t do everything perfectly.

If I couldn’t do something well, I simply wouldn’t do it. Or, if I HAD to do it for one reason or another, I would simply learn and practice on my own where no one else could see me. That way when I revealed my new talent it would be like I could do it all along.

I can think of sports examples most acutely. I only played one year of soccer because I was just ok and others were better than me. I only swam for two years for the same reason. I am HORRIBLE at tennis so I just never played it or even tried when my family would go to have a good time and hit the ball around.

I managed the boys lacrosse team in high school and wanted them to think I was cool. They would toss the ball back and forth while killing time and I wanted to join in, but had absolutely no idea how to catch a lacrosse ball. I would stand off to the side and never accept an invitation to play catch until I taught myself how in secret. I borrowed a friend’s lacrosse stick and practiced so that when the time came I could effortlessly jump in and everyone would be SO IMPRESSED. I stressed myself out about this silly ball like nobody’s business.

I was terrified that if people saw that I couldn’t do something, it meant I was a failure and they would automatically think less of me. I refused to let people teach me things because it made me feel less than and I assumed that they were categorizing all my flaws in their head. This left me embarrassed and ashamed and rather than try anything new, I simply wouldn’t do it at all.

Obviously, my “perfect” facade was stripped away almost immediately when my family and friends found out about everything I had been keeping secret for so many years. It was like 215457345 mistakes compounded on top of each other that caused me to suddenly not care at all about how I looked to others. There was really nowhere to go but up and so I set my ego aside and let others help me.

I learned how to feel feelings. I learned how to express myself. I learned how to be an adult and start talking to collection companies after I stopped paying my bills. I did all of these things and more by admitting that I didn’t know everything. I let people who had been there before me give me advice and information about how to do the things I didn’t think I could do.

And guess what? No one judged me. No one said “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO DO THAT.” They simply passed their information on to me and I learned all sorts of new skills and ways of dealing with situations. I made mistakes and I picked myself back up and did it again. That’s when I learned that you shouldn’t fear mistakes and that in the end, they’re often good for you.

They mean you’re trying

If you never make a single mistake, you’re likely staying in your comfort zone. You aren’t trying new things, new experiences, and new challenges. That, or you’re just really, really good at absolutely everything. 🙂

Mistakes mean that you’re trying something you may not be comfortable with and that you might not get it the first time. To me that’s really brave.

They mean you’re learning

With every mistake comes a chance to learn. What went wrong? What can you do differently next time? What do you need to change to succeed going forward? Every failed relationship I had was a huge learning experience and a chance for me to learn something about myself. Picking someone who went against a lot of the things I was looking for in a partner was probably a mistake, and from that I learned what I wanted going forward.

Rather than get down on yourself for making a mistake, simply view it as a chance to learn. Ask yourself those questions, get up, and try again!

They help you not take life so seriously

Mistakes can be funny. They’re an opportunity for you to laugh at yourself and realize that it’s not the end of the world. If I ever call someone by the wrong name in a class, I don’t freak out and make myself feel bad, I simply laugh about it and correct myself. There’s not enough time in life to wallow in self-deprecation. Laugh it off and move on.

Thanks to Amanda for letting me think out loud.

Questions:

  • How do you feel about making mistakes?
  • What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from a mistake?
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27 Comments

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 19, 2016 / 9:35 pm

      I know! It’s so destructive and frustrating!

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 19, 2016 / 9:36 pm

      Man that would be terrifying haha

  1. December 15, 2016 / 8:14 am

    Get out of my brain. You seriously described my childhood and early adulthood. I think it’s why I quit gymnastics (well, burnout too) and never learned a musical instrument.
    Thankfully, I’m learning being human = making mistakes. I think my antidepressant has helped with this because I am less fearful of being judged and less hard on myself when I do fail. Thanks as always for sharing your thoughts!
    Catherine @ A Cup of Catherine recently posted…It’s OK To Feel Sad Sometimes…My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 19, 2016 / 9:36 pm

      Absolutely! I can relate to all of this. Maybe it’s just getting older but I just don’t have the every for all that anymore!

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 19, 2016 / 9:36 pm

      Absolutely!

  2. December 15, 2016 / 9:17 am

    I just read Richard Branson’s book, Screw It, Let’s Do It, and he speaks a lot on the same theme. In the book, he talked about some of his famous mistakes and how he gained from them – fame, money, adventure or a lesson, sometimes all 4.
    Runwright recently posted…Sketch Me A Memory 12 14 16My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 19, 2016 / 9:37 pm

      Ooh sounds like a book I should pick up!

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 19, 2016 / 9:37 pm

      Mistakes are so important for personal growth!

  3. December 15, 2016 / 12:05 pm

    Oh man, I can so relate to this!!
    I’m sloooooowly getting better at calling things “good enough”. This morning I made a photobook for my Oma. It’s certainly far from perfect, but sending her something is a million times better than sending her nothing.

    And, really, my blog is so freaking far from perfect, and again, I’m learning that something is better than nothing.
    Ange // Cowgirl Runs recently posted…Dashing Through the Glow Race RecapMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 19, 2016 / 9:38 pm

      Oh yes. I used to be in school and if I’d make a mistake I would recopy the whole page instead of crossing something out. So nuts. There’s just no time for that!

  4. December 15, 2016 / 12:22 pm

    I struggle with perfectionism every single day and it’s really hard for me to cope with mistakes, especially in gymnastics. Somedays are much harder than others but I’m thankful that God is helping me to slowly rid me of my perfectionist ways and help me to see things through His eyes. Thank you for writing this post Erin <3
    Rachel @ athletic avocado recently posted…Peanut Butter Banana French Toast Waffles {Vegan & GF}My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 19, 2016 / 9:39 pm

      Thanks for reading Rachel! Remember you learn from every mistake. You wouldn’t grow wo them!

  5. December 15, 2016 / 1:04 pm

    I absolutely HATE making mistakes. Especially if I get embarrassed in the process. :/ BUT, what I have learned from that is, in a work environment, questions are always best asked BEFORE you start a project you may not completely understand and owning and admitting to your mistake is key. I think the main takeaway is not worrying so much about being perfect in someone else’s eyes, it’s appreciating your own imperfections when you look in the mirror because that’s what makes you YOU.

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 19, 2016 / 9:39 pm

      YES. questions are so important. Sometimes I feel dumb so I just make a joke out of it and I’m like “ok, I have no idea about any of this so you’re going to have to explain it…”

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 19, 2016 / 9:40 pm

      Yes! You never know unless you try!

  6. December 15, 2016 / 5:12 pm

    Very good point! I wish that more people had encouraged me to keep persuing things after failing or making mistakes as a kid. I feel like it was more of a “good try” and move on type of a feeling. I also had a huge thing about being afraid to make mistakes and it made me want to try less things growing up!
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot recently posted…TOL: 10 Random ThoughtsMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 19, 2016 / 9:40 pm

      Aw yeah that’s tough. I hope to encourage my kids to do whatever they want and just keep trying!

  7. December 19, 2016 / 10:53 am

    Better try and fail than not try at all, right? It definitely means you’re pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and often you have to fail first, to succeed after. Hard lesson to learn, but yeah, totally worth it.
    San recently posted…Five holiday gifts for athletes My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 19, 2016 / 9:45 pm

      Absolutely. I find I grow the most from the mistakes I make.

  8. Nicci Randall
    March 23, 2017 / 3:15 pm

    Really great timing for this one. I’m telling students it’s okay to fall – it’s actually pretty necessary when you’re trying to learn harder poses, but I forget to tell myself this… Thanks for the reminder!

    • erinsinsidejob
      March 27, 2017 / 9:05 pm

      Thanks Courtney!!

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