I’ve certainly made more than 3 mistakes in my life (a more accurate figure would probably be a gazillion). From fashion catastrophes to saying things out of anger that I regret later, I’ve practically done em’ all. But as I think about the mistakes I've made in my life that have taught me the greatest lessons, there are 3 that instantly come to mind.
1. Staying too long at a job that took a toll on my mental health
I remember sitting in my office when it first happened. An unease in the pit of my stomach and this strong feeling to flee; to just get out of the office and find a shelter of some sort. I remember rushing out of the office and into an empty stairwell. I called my husband and on the verge of tears, I blurted out, “I can’t do this. It’s too much.”
If I had to explain my episodes of anxiety to someone, I’d say it’s like having a hater live in your own mind highlighting all the possible worst-case scenarios, constantly filling you with self-doubt and worry. I had a gut feeling that this job would continue to take a toll on my mental health, but I still stuck on. Why?
I was afraid. I was afraid of the judgement I would face from family and friends for leaving my job with no game plan. I was afraid of being thought of as a loser. I was afraid that prioritising my mental health would somehow put me behind in life as if it’s a rat race we’re all in.
Ultimately, I realised it just wasn’t worth the mental anguish and I left my job. It took me some time to realise that my self-worth shouldn’t be tied to a paycheck. These days, I’m writing and it brings me joy. Hopefully what brings me joy can also bring me a livelihood one day.
2. Not believing in myself
We’ll need to rewind back to my university days for this one. So, I’m in university and through a series of events (a story for another day), I found myself enrolled in the business program. I was in the science stream in high school and I didn’t know the first thing about business or accounting. I had no background whatsoever in business and I was terrified of failing.
I remember telling my dad how I felt and he said he wasn’t worried. He said, “I know you can do it. I have no doubt about it. You must believe in yourself, Vidhu.” I was taken aback by his response. He was right, I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t give my capabilities or intelligence any credit whatsoever.
I’m not a genius, but I soon discovered that with consistent effort and hard work, what once seemed daunting becomes manageable. I took on my first semester with hesitation, attended lectures and tutorials religiously, asked questions when I didn’t understand, studied consistently, and I got through my papers. As the semesters passed, I began to believe in myself more and more.
The greatest lesson I learned from my time in university was this: the end goal is always daunting. But there are days, weeks, and months leading up to it. Every day that we put in some work brings us that much closer to our goal. We just need to believe in ourselves enough to start and believe in our goals enough to persist.
This is a lesson that guides me to this day; launching a website was daunting. But with help from my mentor and a little work every day, I launched my website and now post twice a week. So, thank you appa, for believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.
3. Beating myself up for being an introvert
I’m an introvert. I like my alone time, enjoy small intimate dinners with friends, don’t do well in large social gatherings, and don’t have many close friends. There’s a common misconception that introverts don’t enjoy the company of other people. This isn’t true; I enjoy the company of loved ones and close friends, but I also value my alone time and prefer to keep hangouts intimate rather than big and off the hook as the young people used to say.
For a long time, I viewed this personality trait as a problem. I often see my extroverted friends having very active social lives and a long list of friends. I would always compare myself to them and feel anti-social, unpopular, and uncool. At times, social media has added fuel to this fire. Dozens of posts and stories about friends hanging out with other friends, game nights, parties, bar hopping, and road trips made me feel like I was somehow less than normal.
I won’t lie; I still admire and at times envy extroverts, but I’ve slowly started to embrace my introverted-ness. I have a few close friends, but I enjoy long telephone conversations with them that fill my heart. I don’t go to a lot of parties, but that frees up a lot of time in the evenings to play board games with my family or learn how to play interesting card games like Magic: The Gathering with my husband. In the solitude that I once deemed so unnatural, I find peace and ideas to write about.
As an introvert, I’ll probably never be the life of a party. You’re more likely to find me in a corner chatting with the one friend I know or on the balcony, looking up at the stars, wishing I was at home. But what’s wrong with that? I don’t remember much of the history or geography I learned in school, but something tells me that constellations were probably first discovered by an introvert waiting to go home from a party.
All jokes aside, if you’re an introvert, welcome to the club. If you ever question why you’re wired the way you are, please don’t! Being an introvert doesn’t make you any less cool or special; some of the most successful people in history including JK Rowling, Meryl Streep, Steven Spielberg, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates are said to be introverts! Everyone has beauty and talent within them, no matter how they’re wired.
Making mistakes is only human. We often view mistakes in a negative light, but with time and some reflection, mistakes can offer us valuable lessons. So, ask yourself this: what mistake have you made recently and what lesson can you learn from it? Do comment below.