I recently read an article that a soon-to-be father wrote about raising his unborn daughter. What started as a tender and sweet pledge to his future daughter turned a bit archaic and judgmental in one single sentence: “It’s okay to make mistakes and laugh at yourself, as long as you learn from those mistakes.”
I immediately thought, “What about the mistakes she’ll never learn from?”
You know what I’m talking about. The choices you made that ultimately held no real value for your life. The things you did that you knew were wrong even before you did them.
The word mistake implies that a person doesn’t know the choice or action is wrong until after the fact, after a session of soul-searching, after a disastrous morning walk home with only one shoe and a mysterious blue stain on your shirt.
But what about the mistakes we knew we were making?
The times you were sure that extra shot of tequila would send you straight to the toilet bowl, and you proved yourself right. The time you knew that going out would result in an incomplete English paper and you went out anyway, cementing your paper’s fate in the C- club. Sexting. Sexting while armed with the knowledge that your steamy conversation is one screenshot away from making you Twitter famous.
Our society is becoming increasingly indulgent of the misguided mistakes of young millennials as a long as we “learn from them.” Well, what about the times when I didn’t learn a damn thing?
Being a 20-something is all about making choices that you know are wrong. Self-discovery isn’t worth much if mandatory wisdom is the result of every wrong decision. I like some of my mistakes discolored, disdainful, and completely devoid of moral implications, thank you very much.
Sometimes I find it necessary to blunder my way through a first date with a guy I know is all wrong for me simply because a free margarita sounds enticing enough to make it all worth it. Sometimes we all just need to do things for the value of the experience. We do it because we want to. We do it because the vapid, narcissistic, and frivolous rebel inside us all is screaming out to be heard.
I’m not saying that learning from your mistakes isn’t valuable. The road to self-discovery is riddled with painful, thoughtful, and stupid mistakes that will have a hand in molding you into the person you are. However, don’t discredit the mistakes you made simply for the experience of it. These ill-considered gaffes are just as important as all of the insightful lessons learned. Because when you’re older and a bit more settled, you’ll look back on that night you bet and lost all of your rent money in one single spin at a roulette wheel in Vegas with such fondness that the smile on your face will make your cheeks hurt.
The moral of this story is to stay a bit reckless. Be free and reckless with your heart, your money, and your time. Living your life this way won’t always give you complete satisfaction or happiness, but it will change you. One day you will grow up and lose this fearlessness. Instead of feeling carefree you will crave a sense of stability and purpose. When that stability eventually comes, you’ll fondly remember the days when you lived life with complete abandon.