10 Valuable Lessons I’ve Learned From My Mistakes


My birthday is coming up in less in a month and I will be moving past the first quarter century of my life into what will probably be the most defining next ten years of my life. I am less than thrilled at the extra amount of responsibilities and pressures that come each year as you get older especially when a good chunk of my friends are either getting married or entertaining that possibility within the next one or two years all while I just became single this year. As I reflect on the past 25 years of my life, I have very few regrets. However, I’m not afraid to say I’ve made a lot of mistakes– some which I have learned the hard way (unfortunately), some not so hard (thank goodness), and some I haven’t even fully learned from yet (to be honest). I hope everyone reading this can learn and benefit from my experience.

1. Get rid of your ego.

I was much too prideful growing up and I still think I am pretty prideful to this day. I never thought anything was my fault. Or I’d always find some kind of ridiculous way to reason things out of being my fault. Sometimes actually very convincing and other times just a very apparent load of BS. Vulnerability was a weakness that I would never ever show but I learned that sometimes you are better off being able to admit your mistakes and show that you are not perfect than you are trying to conceal your imperfections.

2. Have high standards. Or just some sort of standard at least.

I would highlight this if I could. But PLEASE respect yourselves and have standards. This goes for everything. You should have standards for how well you do in school, your job, your boyfriend/girlfriend, your health, how you are treated, how you treat others. Everything.

3. If you’re going to be in a relationship, give it your all. Or don’t be in one.

Relationships are a lot of work. I didn’t realize this until later on. There is no way you will ever completely see eye-to-eye with your significant other but there are ways to deal with that. It’s called compromise. Being in a relationship means you have to make sacrifices. Maybe you have to give up that ego and apologize for once. Maybe you have to give up certain bad habits like being late to everything you guys plan. Maybe you just have to chill the fuck out and not be such a psycho girlfriend. Your job as an SO is to assess whether it is a reasonable sacrifice and to do what’s necessary to make the other person happy. It is a two-way street. You can’t just be the only one happy in the relationship. You have to make the other person to be happy too. If you’re not ready to make sacrifices on your part, you’re not ready for a relationship.

4. Breakup like an adult.

Everyone has had their fair share of crazy breakups or those weird ones that just kind of die off. I sure did. There are definitely some exes I just wish I took the higher road instead of letting my crazy emotions get the best of me. I was young, foolish, and would take the passive-aggressive route of dealing with things rather than communicating my feelings. If I felt hurt, I’d hurt them equally. An eye for an eye right? Wrong. These are not ways to appropriately approach a break-up or how to handle something post-breakup or even how you should ever treat a relationship you have. Even if you do not have feelings for them anymore, you will regret this in the future and wish you were more mature about how you handled the situation. How you deal with situations like these reflect what kind of person you are and you should never shoot for being that asshole who has no regard for anyone else’s feelings but their own.

5. Don’t take things for granted.

This is ridiculously cliché but it is a must. Who doesn’t do this? Well if you are one of those people that don’t take things for granted and even manage to appreciate the little things in life, I applaud you. It is human nature to find flaws in your looks, life, SO and to compare what you have or don’t have with other people. As hard as it may be, don’t do this. Be in the moment and appreciate what you do have. Appreciate the people in your life. Appreciate your achievements thus far. You will be so much happier and you will be less likely to let something great pass you by.

6. Respect everyone.

Don’t just respect your friends and family. Respect everyone. You never know what a person is going through or what kind of background they come from. Everyone is deserving of that basic level of respect. I can admit, I’m not the most tolerant person and I can lose it sometimes while driving on the streets of LA but just because you know you’re never going to see the person again, doesn’t mean you should be a complete asshole. Sure, you’ll always be infuriated and screaming at the top of your lungs in the car when someone cuts you off for an unknown reason. But sometimes, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when that car stops their line of traffic to let you make that turn or when someone actually goes out of their way to help you.

7. Take college seriously.

College is perceived, especially in media, as a time for partying, hooking up, and basically discovering how so many people with very different personalities and background get along with yours. You can pretty much expect every teen movie to portray college in this fashion. But college is even more than this. It’s a time for self-exploration, discovering life-long friends, and experimenting with what you might want to make a career out of in the future. It’s your opportunity to break out of the bubble small home-town where you were raised to have a dose of exposure with what this big world has to offer. Don’t waste it by forming relationships or friendships with people you don’t think you’re going to talk to a couple or getting bad grades thinking you can always figure it out later. You’re just wasting time. While everyone is working hard, you are wasting your youth, bright ideas, ambition into unproductive nights of partying.

8. Set a threshold level.

Don’t stick to your job because you are getting paid a moderate amount even though you don’t really care for what you do. Don’t make time repeatedly for others who don’t make time for you. Don’t be in that abusive relationship thinking things will just blow over and things are comfortable. If you don’t remove yourself from the situation, you will be stuck there forever I can guarantee it. I’ve been guilty of all of these and it ultimately became a waste of time and energy…time and energy that can be spent elsewhere whether it is developing a really meaningful relationship or a career that you’re actually really interested in.

9. Don’t lose yourself.

You are exposed to so many societal pressures and temptations growing up. Don’t lose yourself or what you believe in. I can guarantee that you will be challenged, tempted, and offered a variety of drugs, sex, invitations to go out, attention, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for YOLO-ing while you’re young but if you don’t have enough self-control, this could just be bad news. It’s okay to say no. You won’t be judged. And if you are, these aren’t people you should keep in your life.

10. It will all be okay.

You fucked up. Your mistakes had irreversible repercussions. You messed up a relationship with that person you care about. The final point I want to make is you need to stop blaming yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I find myself dwelling on my mistakes and things that I did wrong. The fact is, these things happened for a reason and was probably an act of discontent in some way, shape, or form. Learn and grow from your mistakes. And don’t make the same mistake twice. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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Carolyn How

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