So Was it a “Mistake” or an “Experience?”

Today I heard the quote, “Experience is the name we give our mistakes.” It led me to reflect on all of my “mistakes,” of which there are plenty. I wondered if I could actually just chalk them up to experiences instead of what I’d felt were mistakes. And, the answer is: I’m not sure, and leaning towards ‘no.’

I mean, I can’t get those days, months, weeks or years back that I spent with someone I regret. Nor can I undo something tragic, that I think was a mistake, but I chose to do it.

I did it. It was my doing. So, was it an experience or a mistake?

That is the question.

This leads me to believe that if you CHOOSE to do something, it might, in fact, be a mistake, not an experience. Do you agree? An experience, to me, is something that happened to you or you were a part of. Like, you went on a trip to Cancun in college with a random group of kids on something called Sunsplash Tours–that’s an “experience.” (okay, full disclosure, I did that, and it might have been a mistake. Just saying.) Or, an experience could be getting stuck in an elevator. That’s a tough “experience,” but it’s not a mistake. It happened to you.

I think this quote was created so that we can exonerate ourselves and not feel shame or guilt for making a bad choice. It’s a pass, an out. I don’t like it. If you consider this wrongdoing a mistake, you are less apt to repeat it. Whereas you often can repeat an experience, and some are good and some are bad. Mistakes, to me, are not something we think of as good.

I spend an inordinate amount of time on wishing I could undo mistakes. Like, if I hadn’t done this then I’d be…always somehow in a better place in life. #wasteoftime (click here if you want to find a way to welcome unwelcome feelings).

We can’t undo our mistakes. We can someday call them experiences, I guess, but the best thing we can do is LEARN FROM THEM!

The other thing we can do is keep making them. I think if you are too afraid to make a mistake, then you will always stay in the safe zone and on the sidelines. You may never make a discovery, personal or professional. I believe in jumping in, full force, and then just spending inordinate amounts of time hating yourself later if it doesn’t work out.

Ha! I mean, that’s kind of what I do. That’s rotten advice. Sorry.


This is good advice though:

And a person who has only experiences, and not mistakes, is not real.

Pet that unicorn for me.