1995 was a very good year. I was in eighth grade and editor for my junior high yearbook and newspaper. I loved it. Honestly, it was probably one of my favorite years of school throughout my entire scholastic career. Why? Because I was able to go to a class each day that I loved, doing the things I enjoyed most. I loved writing articles for the paper and cropping pictures for the yearbook. I also enjoyed the leadership role of being the editor. I worked closely with my teacher to double check proofs and layouts to make sure we were getting what we wanted. (Shout out to Mrs. Dendy! Twenty years later and you’re still one of my favorite teachers.)
It took a lot of work and effort for our publications staff to put out the Hitchin' Post and Hoofbeats, and I wanted the final products to reflect that. One day while going over a yearbook proof, I noticed that the publishing company had made a mistake. They had an image pointing in the wrong direction. So my teacher and I circled it and told them to reverse the image so it would look just like the many others in the book. Imagine my shock when the yearbooks finally arrive and I turn the page to see the “correction.”
This is what the design was supposed to look like:
|I'd also like to offer a shout out to Michelle!|
And this is what they printed:
I felt horrible. It was wrong. It was a mistake on my watch. It wasn’t perfect.
I don’t know how many others even noticed the mistake. I just know that it bothered me tremendously.
Fast forward two decades later to a girl who grew up and published two books of her own. When a stomach bug/virus/inconvenience attacked this weekend, I decided I would finally get around to reading those two books. (Hello, unexpected downtime!) So I read Ransom of the Healer and Rise of theSeer. And you know what? I found mistakes. And I felt horrible. Or in this case, horribler. We could say even more horrible, but horribler just seems to sum it up better. And I wanted to pull each and every copy and shut the whole thing down. And I let myself hear the awful things I’ve been afraid of since deciding to put my books out there three years ago.
I am, without a doubt, my own worst critic. No one is better at tearing me down than my own thoughts and voice. And I don’t think I’m alone in that. I know there are more out there like myself and I just have to ask:
Why do we do that to ourselves?
Why do we kick ourselves for imperfections and perceived failures?
Why are we so quick to notice what isn’t perfect without looking at all of the positives that got us there in the first place?
There is no one, not one single person on this planet right now, who is walking around as perfection personified. And I think we need to see that as a good thing. I think we need to see it as an opportunity to offer ourselves grace when we make mistakes. Because we’re human, and they are going to happen. So we have a choice to make.
We can let the weight of past failures keep us tethered to a moment that wasn’t ideal, or we can acknowledge it and move on.
Move on, my friends.
Pull an Elsa and let it go. (Apologies if you end up singing that all day now.) We are more than the sum of our imperfections and failures. To stay in that place of regret is to forgo future joy. There is so much more freedom when we just acknowledge mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow.
I just thought someone else might want to hear those words. Give yourself permission to move on. And be kind to yourself. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.