Mistakes Define You or Defining Moments?

Everyone makes mistakes, it a fact of life. Mistakes are how we learn. Mistakes help us figure out what we are made of, what we are capable of, but they don’t define us. Often mistakes lead to some of our defining moments, those moments that are game changers.

The list of mistakes we make in life is endless, and we start making some whoppers at a pretty young age. The important thing to remember is doing a bad thing is different from being a bad person. Doing a stupid thing is different from being a stupid person. And so on and so on, you get the drift, right?  Often people make mistakes and they feel like those mistakes are them, but they are not. They are not unless you let them be. We all have been given this wonderful gift of free will and as such we have the ability to take responsibility for ourselves and make choices that are in line with who we are or who we want to be at any time. We don’t have to let bad choices we made, in the past or even in the recent present, be our future. That is our choice.

Sure, if you make a big enough mistake you may have some hefty consequences to deal with, that comes with the territory, but you are the one who decides how to deal with those consequences. Are you going to feel sorry for yourself? Are you going to play the if only game? Are you going to blame the source of the consequences? Or are you going to take responsibility, learn from the mistake and make a better choice next time?

When I was a kid, I was probably the kid you didn’t want your kid around. In eighth grade, I had this best friend who was everything I wasn’t. She was pretty and popular. She was funny and just so much fun to be around. We started skipping school. Then at the mall we purchased a few things like a belt, hair barrette, and wallet using the five-finger discount. Next, in ninth grade we came up with this bright idea to run away. We funded this runaway excursion with fund from bad checks we cashed at a local five and dime stores. We made it seven hundred and fifty miles from home. We used our funds to buy bus tickets. We would get stopped along the way and questioned by police, who were looking for two run away girls. We even had to stay in a couple shelters. All along the way I found myself asking, what were we going to do when we reached our destination? It occurred to me we wouldn’t be able to go to school, runaways can’t exactly register for school. I wanted out of my horrible existence, but was this really helping?

In the end, I ended up back home, in court, and on unsupervised probation for a year. I will never forget the terror I felt being questioned by the cop about the checks. My sweet grandmother, the woman who I believe I owe my life to, paid the $363.63 court costs and then it was time for me to go back to reality.

When I went back to school, I had two choices I could keep going down the road I was heading or I could pick another path. I chose to pick another path. I chose to own my consequences, suck up my current situation and do what I needed to get out. For the time being that meant surviving in order to graduate high school so I could go to college.

I knew school was my ticket out and I knew going forward I had to focus on that. Luckily for me I was able to make some new friends. Friends who walked the straight and narrow and for whatever reason were gracious enough to accept me and welcome me into their fold. I never stole anything ever again. From that point forward I knew my life at home might be bad, but school was my way out. I was going to graduate and I was going to go to college and that is exactly what I did.

Some people, some adults even, probably looked and me and saw a bad kid, a bad person they didn’t want their child around. The truth was, I wasn’t a bad kid. I was a kid trying to figure out how to survive a bad situation. Yes, I made some whopper mistakes, but those mistakes didn’t define me. Those mistakes turned out to be the first major defining moment in my life. A defining moment that put me on the path to the life I have today, a life so different from the existence I knew in my youth. And I am beyond grateful for my life. I have a good life, I life I achieved by making mistakes and learning from them.


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