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The Difference Between What You Call An Experience And What You Call A Mistake

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Lauren Martin

Experience. The most brutal of teachers and the most honest of friends. The best lessons in the classroom of life and the hardest pills to swallow. Many say it’s the collection of your experiences that defines you and I’ve always wondered why mistakes aren’t included in that definition. Isn’t “mistake” just a harsh word for “experience”?

To many, mistakes are viewed with a negative connotation. They are lamented, ignored and many times reserved for the clumsy. However, aren’t mistakes just experiences that aren’t always happy and wonderful to remember? For you can’t really tell what a mistake is until you’ve had time to process it, to decide if it added any value to your life or if it just hurt you unnecessarily.

We’re all human and we all make mistakes, but mistakes don’t always have to be bad. They are the precursors to what we’ve come to deem as “learning experiences.” Everyone makes mistakes, and defining your life by the mistakes you’ve made is no way to live, but defining them as experiences is another story.

Experiences can always be extracted from mistakes, if you’re willing to see them that way. Many people only look at mistakes as bad parts of their lives, of themselves, that they’d rather not try to understand. They try to hide them, forget them and bury them deep in the back of their minds. They refuse to look at them as anything but insufferable, unnecessary bumps in the road.

However, life’s all about how you look at it, isn’t it? It’s the glass half empty or half full. It’s the silver linings, the other side and, ultimately, it’s what you make of it. So why look at your mistakes as regrets? Why not look at your mistakes as experiences, moments and accidents that helped you grow into the person you are now?

Mistakes are what you allow them to be. They are the fibers that make up our past and our present and they happen every day. They are in your old relationships, that time you got caught stealing, and when you sent that bad text to the wrong person. They are in your missed deadlines and your wrong flight records. They are those shoes you bought two sizes too small and that time you ordered way too much food at the Chinese restaurant.

Superficially, all of these seem like mundane trivial acts of human stupidity, and maybe they are. But they can also be something else. They can be moments you had to learn from, moments that taught you something you wouldn’t have learned had you not made that error. They are the small blunders that show you something you would have never seen without them. Many times, there really is no difference between an experience and a mistake; it’s simply all about how you look at it.

Experiences help you grow; mistakes hold you back.

Experiences leave lessons; mistakes leave regrets.

Experiences make you smarter; mistakes make you question.

Experiences show you the way; mistakes lead you into the dark.

Experiences are necessary; mistakes are inescapable.

Experiences are great for stories; mistakes are for nights you can’t sleep.

Experiences build you up; mistakes tear you down.

Experiences are welcomed; mistakes are uninvited.

Experiences give you character; mistakes make you a character.

Experiences lead to new opportunities; mistakes take them away.

Experiences define you; mistakes bother you.

Experiences are praised; mistakes are pardoned.

Experiences hurt; mistakes hurt more.

Experiences create; mistakes destroy.

Experiences fill you up; mistakes empty you.

Experiences add value; mistakes add weight.

Experiences are for the great; mistakes are for the weak.

Experiences drive creativity; mistakes drive insanity.

Experiences last forever; mistakes last a minute.

Experiences create leaders; mistakes create lamenters.

Experiences drive creativity; mistakes drive madness.

Experience leads to new beginnings; mistakes feel like the end.

Experiences inspire creativity; mistakes create chaos.

Experiences are praised; mistakes are regretted.

Experiences mold you; mistakes burn you.

Experiences shower you; mistakes drown you.

Experiences are collected; mistakes are rejected.

Photo courtesy Crawling Tumblr

Lauren Martin

Lauren Martin

Staff Writer

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