When I was young, my mother always overemphasized the value of image and reputation. She would read over my Facebook posts to make sure it flowed and was grammatically correct, she would put painstaking effort into making sure the clothes I wore were up to par, and she constantly reminded me of the pitfalls of my friends. To her, reputation was everything. The way people perceive your appearance and personality was always more important than actually having a personality. As long as people thought you were a good person, that’s all that mattered. As a result, I felt as though I could not make mistakes in my life, because if I did my reputation would become tarnished and word would spread about my short comings faster than a forest fire in the west. If I did actually make a mistake (heaven forbid) I would have to save my reputation any way I knew how- by blaming someone else or something else. After all, I couldn’t have people thinking I was incompetent.
When I first moved in with my boyfriend, I was without my parents and without their oversight in taking care of my financial affairs. For the first time, I was on my own and completely independent. Unfortunately, I went a little crazy with my independence and went on shopping sprees whenever possible. I didn’t care about vanity, it just felt so good to purchase good looking clothes. Sadly, I also didn’t care about any of my financial obligations, including rent. So when it came time to put in my share, there were tumble weeds in my account. I was horrified at myself, yet I still blamed everyone and everything within reach. I blamed the stress of being independent, I blamed the reletively low pay at my new job, I blamed my mother for not showing me how to budget, I even blamed my boyfriend!! However, this behavior took it’s toll on me and made me feel like I was perpetually living in a cycle of lies and inauthenticity. My relationships suffered because other people, like my boyfriend, would know that I was wrong -even I knew I was wrong, but I simply could not take the blame. Little did I realize that it tarnished my image even further not only to avoid admitting my mistakes, but to lie as if they weren’t my own. Denying my faults also proved to be a huge hinderance to my personal growth. If I’m blameless, then there is no need for personal growth, right?
While all of us worry about what others will think of us from time to time, there is something deeper festering within us when we refuse to own our mistakes. As humans we are defensive of ourselves because we don’t want to come to terms with the fact that we are not as knowledgeable as we think and that we are not better than others because of how talented, intelligent, or creative we are. We hold on to our beliefs like precious offspring to protect us from our own doubts and safe guard our sense of self-worth. So when we claim that our mistakes aren’t entirely our fault, we aren’t trying to convince other people. We’re trying to convince ourselves. Our identity is precious to us and we hard to create one unique and worth while. Our mistakes make us disappointed in ourselves and the person we are trying to mold, so we bite back in defense of our mistakes furious that someone else can make us feel so ashamed. The reason we feel so ashamed is that we simply cannot bear to acknowledge that we may act slovenly, or careless, or selfish, or rude. We fear that being wrong once in a while or having such flaws makes us bad people all together. If someone has brought up a mistake or a flaw, they must be attacking who we are as people but that just isn’t true. We can be perfectly moral, kind, and respectable people and still make many many mistakes.
If someone calls out a mistake you made or a flaw you have, they are creating an opportunity for you to improve. Personally, I have a bad habit of becoming offended when people point out my mistakes or flaws. It makes me feel like I’m a bad person and it forces me to face the darker side of my character. A side I am quite ashamed to acknowledge and will do anything to avoid doing so. While none of want to face the Darth Vader inside of us, it is a necessary evil if want to improve ourselves. Open your mind to acknowledge that you are flawed and WILL do stupid things and make stupid mistakes. Don’t be so prideful to Don’t blame others for these mistakes but instead use them as an opportunity to grow.
There are some serious changes we can make in our lives once we simply accept that we are all idiots that make silly mistakes sometimes. Once we accept that, we can stop defending our pitfalls in shame and begin actively changing them.