When I think about the mistakes I’ve made, the unkind words I’ve spoken, the opportunities I’ve let slip by, the unhealthy mindsets I’ve fostered — it makes me want to hang my head in shame.
On too many occasions, I have not acted as my best self, the self I want to be. The self I know I’m capable of being. On too many occasions, I have accepted mediocre, I’ve stood by when I should have acted, I’ve said “no” to life when I could have said “yes.”
If there is any grace in this humbling admission, it’s the knowledge that I’m not alone. Failing to live up to expectations, our own or that of others, is part of the human condition. We are flawed, every single one of us. And as hard as we may try to be our “best selves,” we will never reach that goal. We will never reach it because our best self is a work in progress. It will be until the day we die.
But . . . we can be a “better self.” We can define the best self we want to be and strive daily to come as close to that as possible. Yes, we will forget. We will falter. We will fail at times. However, as long as we keep trying to be better, we are doing our best.
I believe without our mistakes and failures, we can’t come close to becoming our best selves. Without them, we don’t know where and how to improve. We may be inspired to set lofty goals, but it’s the mistakes along the way that show us the next step we need to take.
Failure may be humbling, but it is a teacher. If you shift your perspective just a bit, maybe you’ll even see your lapses as a gift. I love what thought leader and author Marianne Williamson says about failure and being a better person:
The new midlife is where you realize that even your failures make you more beautiful and are turned spiritually into success if you became a better person because of them. You became a more humble person. You became a more merciful and compassionate person.
That has certainly been true for me. In my young adult years, I did everything possible to hide my failures and flaws. I had a hard time facing my negative qualities and admitting, “Yep, you belong to me.” With every passing year, you gain acceptance that perfection is an impossible goal and a waste of time. You learn to forgive yourself and can more easily move on. You learn to extract the valuable nuggets from your blunders before you run away from them with your head down and eyes averted. You learn that being a better person means embracing your strengths and weaknesses.
I want to be a better person, and I believe you do as well. Let’s work together to accept the inevitability of mistakes, flaws, and setbacks, while continuing to move toward the best self we all desire to be.