I’m human, I make mistakes. That’s what I’m telling myself right now. I’m human, I make mistakes. Making a mistake doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, or stupid, or any of the things that sometimes pop into my head when I find that I’ve made a mistake. All it means is that I’m human. And humans make mistakes.
What brought all this about is that I read an article I wrote recently, and found a mistake in it. (I’ve found mistakes in other articles, too.) They always shock me, because I work hard on my articles to make sure they don’t have typos, the wrong word, or, heaven forbid, factual errors.
And yet there they are in my articles. Typos, wrong words (whole for hole, for example, in one), and factual errors! How could this possibly happen? (I’m human and I make mistakes?) Once I got over the shock of finding the most recent error and wondering how in the world I could have made such a stupid mistake in the first place, then missed it when I re-read and edited the article, the bad self-talk started.
I’m not going to write all the crappy things I said to and wondered about myself and my competency, because I don’t want to give them any more energy and life than I already have. But they weren’t pleasant.
Luckily, partway into my rant about myself, I remembered: I’m human, I make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. Even the best writers, the best teachers, speechwriters, speech givers, editors, everybody. People everywhere make mistakes because people are human, and it is part of the human condition that we make mistakes.
As I keep repeating my mantra for the day (I’m human, I make mistakes, I’m human, I make mistakes), I’m starting to feel better, and I’m beginning to look for what I can learn from this situation. I know there is something to learn, because there always is, and if I don’t learn from this, then some of the bad things I’ve said about myself might just be true.
What can I learn from this most recent mistake of mine?
I can learn I need to be more careful with my articles. I can resolve to proof them even more meticulously; maybe I can accomplish that by putting even more time between the writing and editing process and the proofreading. I can make sure to check my facts a third-or fourth-time.
Maybe even more importantly, though, I can learn not to be so hard on myself, that making a mistake isn’t the end of the world, doesn’t mean the destruction of my reputation and career, and doesn’t mean I’m worthless or bad at what I do. It simply means I’m human.
I’m human and I make mistakes.