How We Keep Making Mistakes and Why it Doesn’t Matter

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

There’s no way to predict whether or not you’ll survive adulthood. Or, in the least, get through it with minimal psychological damage and self-loathing.

Through our adult lives, we move through a cycle of making mistakes, fixing them, and learning our lesson before making new mistakes. But it turns out that all of these lessons wear out faster than Danny DeVito competing in the Hurdles.  Once you learn something new with which to defend yourself against the next challenge, you find out that everything is different, the rules have changed, and the tidbits you’ve learned no longer apply. Life is transient and so are its lessons.

Fortunately, this isn’t all bad news. And you will still be able to swaddle yourself in a plush blanket of every-mistake-I-make-is-justifyable-because-it-will-arm-me-for-the-next-situation. The only way in which you can learn from your, or others’, mistakes is to eventually build those experiences into a compass that will alert you when you start to spiral south.  While lessons are transient, experience is not, so it’s never a bad idea to expand your reservoir of knowledge with folks who have lived through Smallpox and war-with-bayonets. Of course, despite what many people think, good advice is not an inoculation against mistakes. You’ll still make them. But your compass will start to form, and in the future your worldly experience will keep you from traveling down detrimental roads, like deciding to bring fannie-packs and mismatched socks back into style.

Yet alas, even experience only goes so far, and our compasses can only point us in the right director for so long (aka: if you find yourself having a conversation about Xenu with Tom Cruise, you need to realign your needle). I’ve never known any adults who have woken up one morning and thought: gee, now I know the secret to life. There is no secret. So for those of us just beginning adulthood and eager for the day when life is normal or steady or no longer a rollercoaster ride: save your eagerness for the Spice Girls revival tour, because a normal life is never going to happen. No one holds the key to life and everyone  just pretends to know what the heck their supposed to do—which basically means you can (re)invent yourself as many times as you want. As long as you, too, slap on a little confidence and poise. There isn’t a right way, there isn’t a wrong way…there’s just the way you choose to make it through, with relative sanity and a whole lot of the happiness that most adults forget to hang onto along the journey.

It’s Monday night and you’re showering your friends with a torrential downpour of the frustrations about your adult life, which week-after-week fails to appear as glamorous as Paula Abdul’s sequined bras. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s never easy—it won’t get easier and it won’t get less chaotic. But it will get more fun, more exhilarating, and way wilder than you could have imagined.

There may not be a manual for surviving adulthood—but there is a lot of wine and a whole world full of adults who will polish off the bottle with you.

About OneWeekToCrazy

Writer in my real life, Milton in my work life. Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

Posted on August 9, 2012, in Lifestyle, Seeking Perfection and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Are you referring to the neon, mismatched socks of the early nineties?? Or better yet—doubled up? Worn with Tretorns?? Because that was an awesome trend.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. Those are powerful words. You’ve unfolded a significant “every twenty-something-struggling-with adulthood” should know and remember. Thanks for this post! 🙂

  3. Lovely imagery. Poor Danny, how did he even qualify for the Olympics?

    Aeroplanes are constantly blown off-course and have to constantly re-align themselves or they’d never reach their destination. If you picture yourself as an aeroplane and the destination as…

    Well, this is getting too figurative for me.

  4. pursuitofhappieness

    That was an absolute pleasure to read 🙂

  5. What a great post…thank you so much for the reminder!

  6. That was refreshing to read. As a man who lived by the bayonet and is now trying to normalize his life I understand fully where you come from. Two years of psychiatrists and psychologists I am a little more sane than I was yesterday. Both professions told me to talk about my stuck points and so I wrote a book. The book let me to open a blog and the blog let me to tweet. These are words that were never in my vocabulary. I am not afraid of the daily changes because I was taught to expect them and handle them. Now I can’t even take my wife to a casino without seizing up the crowd for possible dangers. I have eyes in the back of my head. I want to learn more from you and so I signed to follow your blog. If you are interested in what makes me tick, please see my blog and please leave a feedback.
    Thank you.

  7. Oh, the wine. It’s kept relationships together, and people sane in an insane world. Enjoyed your reflection and you’re right, it doesn’t get any easier with age. Age softens your reactions with hues of grey in place of black and white. You’re on the right track to live a happy life.

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