I like to write uplifting columns. God knows that there aren’t enough positive messages going around in the world right now, and especially after the events at the Boston Marathon on Monday, I feel this is the time to spread some love around. On a quick side note, I offer my most sincere prayers to any and all who have been affected by Monday’s happenings. However, I do not want to dwell on any sadness and pain, so I now shift the topic of my column to something every single person on planet Earth must deal with – mistakes.
“Oh yeah, Grace, that’s definitely a much more cheerful topic. Let’s have a nice, uplifting heart-to-heart about all of the things we’ve done wrong in our lives” (insert sarcastic tone). I imagine that’s what many of you are thinking right now. However, before we get carried away with the sarcasm, I want to clarify my intentions for this piece. First and foremost, this is not going to be my own personal diary. I will not confess my deepest and darkest secrets, which may please or disappoint you, depending on who you are. I will not talk about what’s right and wrong, and I most certainly will not call anyone out on past mistakes. I just want to talk about something that I have always had difficulty accepting, which is that mistakes really are a necessary part of life.
Let me start off by saying that I have made many mistakes in my life. Shocking, I know. Seriously, though, I have made A LOT of mistakes. Some happened yesterday, some happened last weekend, some happened over a year ago. There are some mistakes that I’ve dealt with, some that I am currently dealing with and some that I still haven’t truly addressed. It gets better, too, because chances are I’m not done adding to that list yet. Truth is, it’s a balancing act. When I mess something up, I fix something else. So, in reality, my plate will never really be completely clear. For some reason, though, that is so hard for me to come to terms with.
I’ve always believed that everything comes at a price. There are very few things in life that come for free. In that sense, I imagine that you can essentially “buy” mistakes. Every single action you take is absolutely, 100 percent your choice, and no one at all can decide what you will or will not do. That’s this great thing we call “free will.” However, all choices come with a price. If you are considering doing something bad, no one can stop you. But, you will have to pay for whatever it is you want to do. Sometimes, the action may outweigh the price. For example, if you lie to your parents and get away with it, then the price wasn’t really all that high. Those are rare cases, though, and most of the time, the price of a particularly bad action outweighs the action itself.
My idea used to be that once you pay the price for something, that’s it. You buy your mistake, pay the fee, and move on with your life. That hasn’t been the case so much recently, though. Even after paying my “fees” for certain past actions, I haven’t felt balanced. I still feel like I either owe a fee, or continue to pay it even when my debt should be settled.
I’ve found myself weighed down by things that I wish I’d done differently. However, I’ve learned to accept that there are simply some things I cannot control, and that holding onto the past does nothing but disrupt your future.
I think Rafiki from “The Lion King” sums it up perfectly well: “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.” Mistakes happen, whether you want them to or not. There comes a point in time when you just have to chalk them up for what they were and let yourself grow. That’s not to say you shouldn’t take responsibility for your actions. As I’ve discussed, everything comes at a price, and it is always best to apologize and retribute for things you may have done to hurt another person, whether they were intentional or accidental.
My point is that in order to truly grow, you have to let mistakes happen, because they let you grow in a way that nothing else can. So, for my last uplifting sentence, let me say this: no matter what, it’ll all be ok.