I hate making mistakes. I realize that no one actually likes making mistakes, but I feel like I hate them more than the average person. Mistakes suck and I have a hard time believing that I can ever be a good person after making them.
“Mistakes” covers a wide range of goofs, too. I hate bashing my hip on a counter that’s been at the same height and in the same location for months. I hate accidentally sharing a secret. I hate making errors at work.
Also, I somehow don’t believe that I can learn from mistakes. When I screw something up, I’m convinced that I’ll be a failure of a human being, forever and ever, regardless of whether or not I’ve done the same thing perfectly before. For example, a couple weeks ago I made cornbread and epically messed it up. I’m still not sure how it happened, but it just never cooked through all the way, and the whole pan had to be thrown out.
This haunted me for days.
This one pan of failed cornbread caused me to question my skills as a cook. Never mind that I’ve successfully made cornbread several times in my life – messing up this one batch caused me to think that I’d altered my brain structure, that my baking skills were now gone. Poof. Instant, eternal, baking failure. I will never make good cornbread again.
Plus, messing up the cornbread meant wasted ingredients and thus, wasted money. All that flour and sugar, half a leftover can of corn I’d been saving specifically for bread, cornmeal, butter…straight in the trash. That’s what, three dollars? Four? That’s a half-hour of wages (after tax)! It’s a precious Starbucks trip! A thrifted necklace! And I just threw it away!
Kevin, naturally, did not share my anxiety. Whatever. It’s his fault I’m thrifty (well, thriftier) now.
I often don’t realize that other people probably a) make mistakes and b) also feel bad, if not anxiety-level terrible, about them. They also c) learn from them, as evidenced by the fact that not everyone has to throw away cornbread every time they make them, and not everyone has consistently bruised hips, and HR departments are not always tripping over themselves trying to re-learn Quickbooks every week.
So there’s hope for me.
In the meantime, I’m working on talking myself down from the ledges I create by making a mistake. The world isn’t going to end because of a payroll error, nor because I forgot to mail that bill for the third day in a row, nor because I accidentally poured laundry detergent into the litter box instead of the washing machine that one time. (Look, I was home sick that day, my brain cells were all focused on just keeping myself upright, let’s just move on.)
I’m also going to work on getting some perspective. Wasting three or four dollars is a bummer, but it won’t plunge us into debt. Not getting to have cornbread with our dinner was disappointing, but we still had plenty to eat. Pouring a glob of laundry detergent into the litter box was kind of hilariously dumb, and besides, we need to use up that detergent to get high-efficiency stuff, anyway.
The world isn’t going to end when I make a mistake. I’m not the only one in the world who screws things up. I am not going to be a terrible person forever. I’m not even a terrible person right now – just a human one.