I have made mistakes in life. There, I have said it, and I am not afraid to say it. You see, to move forward in your life you have to admit and own your mistakes, because then you can learn from them. To learn from your mistakes is the whole point - I believe - of having the very human ability to make them, because without mistakes we cannot grow into stronger people. Mistakes are a good thing.
Now, mistakes can range from the teensy (such as a spelling mistake on your test at school) to the kind of large and significant (you robbed a bank . . . now that is a HUGE mistake, and if anyone reading this has ever robbed a bank, well, please own it, and admit to your self that what you did was wrong . . . then go hand yourself into the police and LEARN from your big boo boo). What I'm saying is no-one is exempt from error-making, and I am going to share with you one of my "oopsies" and how I have grown from them.
This blog post topic arose from a discussion with a friend where I related this story -
"When I was about 13 I competed in my first ever multi-disability swimming race. I remember that it was at Warringah Pool in Sydney, a big, 50m pool. The stands were tall and imposingly white on either side of the pool deck. There were a few people speckled about these stands, including my parents. I was standing at the end of the pool, my hand sweaty, and my mind circling around; the room spun slightly. I knew that I was to swim breaststroke for 50m - just one lap. Standing on the diving block, I waited for the instruction to get set . . . beep! I dove into the water; cool and slippery; glided, and then surfaced. Raising my left arm, I started stroking . . . then it hit me, I was in a breaststroke race, but I was doing freestyle. I quickly dropped my left arm back into the water and continued on with breaststroke - but I was mortified. Even as the water slipped passed and cooled my skin, I could feel my cheeks burning in extreme embarrassment. I knew that I would probably be disqualified at the end of the race, but I also knew that I couldn't give up. To stop in the middle of the race, in the middle of the pool, would be even more embarrassing than the error of doing the wrong stroke.
At the end of the race I got out of the pool. My dad was there with a towel, an official was next to him, I knew what was coming. I was disqualified from the race and guess what . . . I cried. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried - I was a 13 year old child having embarked on her first step towards her major life goal and had made a HUGE mistake. Now, I could have let the discouragement and embarrassment overwhelm me. I could have decided then and there that I didn't want to try anymore, that maybe I wasn't meant to be a Paralympic swimmer. But I didn't."
I didn't quit - I made a huge mistake and yet I didn't quit. This is the significant part of the story - to quit is the lazy way, to learn from is the active way. Do you know that not to quit was the biggest lesson I learnt from that race! I knew that I had let nerves get the better of me, but my dream to swim at the Paralympics was in my grasp and I knew that if I quit than all my dreams would be lost.
I also learnt that perhaps breaststroke wasn't the stroke for me . . . I never swam another breaststroke race after that one (but I couldn't do the kick properly anyway, so no loss!!). Which also taught me that you can achieve your dreams no matter what, it just might not be in the way that you originally expected.
I still make mistakes in my life, I make them everyday, every week, every year, and yet I keep on going. Mistakes are a part of life and if we cannot learn from them than what do our lives become? What mistakes have you learnt from in life? How has making that embarrassing error actually improved your life?
"Your Determination is Limitless"
- Elizabeth Wright