Particularly in our twenties, while we’re in the height of our youth, impressionable and impulsive, our mistakes run the gamut.
Whether it’s failing that crucial statistics exam you didn’t study for because your roommate’s best friend’s boyfriend was throwing a really killer party, attempting to drive home from said party and winding up with some new friends from the local police force, or earning a reputation as the “drunken whore” (this applies to men and women equally), we do some pretty dumb sh*t.
On one hand, it would be marvelous if we lived in a science-fiction saga where erasing one’s bad memories, and replacing them with the things we now know we should have said or done, were possible.
But then, we’d be robbing ourselves of the chance to actually learn from whatever mistakes we’ve made.
The hardest part of this learning experience is how excruciating it can be to examine your hurt. When you do something “wrong” you feel absolutely terrible for about a thousand different reasons.
To then delve into the crevices of where that terrible feeling comes from, and why you would allow yourself to end up there, can make that pain almost impossible to bear.
But the truth is, doing things we don’t want to do builds character, and looking into your own self to determine why you did something you don’t even agree with, will teach you how not to do it again.
Here’s how to survive that experience, and better yet, learn from it.
Consider the action in terms of reasonable consequences.
Did you lie to your parents about where your rent money went? Did you sleep with somebody your friend has a crush on? Get arrested? Fail an exam? Whatever you did, be honest with yourself about the consequences you deserve. This will keep you from blowing it out of proportion, but allow you to understand what it means to live with your actions.
Let. It. Go.
There’s a fine line between reflecting and obsessing. Unless you have actually committed capital murder, chances are this is something you can bounce back from.
Be honest about who you should be honest with.
As confusing as this sounds, it simply means that when you screw up, there are people you have to come clean to and some people who don’t necessarily need to know.
Knowing the difference can save a lot of unnecessary heartache. For instance, if you’ve cheated on someone you really care about because you’ve developed feelings for someone else, both parties probably deserve to know.
But if you got way too drunk and a little too flirty with someone at the bar, an incident you know for certain will never happen again, you can probably keep it to yourself and avoid hurting anyone’s feelings.
It really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
It cannot be said enough that you can only control the way YOU think and act, a philosophy most important when dealing with actions that are regrettable. If you do something stupid, people are going to talk about it, and if you hurt somebody, they may not be able to forgive you. But if you forgive yourself, their grudge is their problem.