It’s OK To Make Mistakes

In a world where perfection is adorned, we often feel inadequate when we make mistakes.

Photo by Celesté Polley

But here’s the thing. We all make mistakes.

People who pursue perfectionism runs after an unreachable idea — a race towards anxiety, depression, and countless abandoned projects. Yes, planning is essential and useful. But obsessing is neurotic and unhealthy.

Perfection doesn’t exist

I know this because I proudly called myself a perfectionist. Holy crap was I in a deep dark hole of denial.

The only goal I achieved: being a fantastic perfectionist.

Not ideal, I tell you. I feared speaking my truth. I held back my talents. I never engaged with people online. I worried people would catch my mistakes and call me a fraud, keeping my goals just out of reach. This impacted my self-esteem and stifled my creative process.

Sound familiar? Meet the hamster wheel of perfectionism.

Make room for mistakes

I was mocked for making a silly typo on LinkedIn (how dare I call myself a writer, ey?). And this got me thinking about mistakes and the process we writers undertake to deliver quality work to a client.

Behind the scenes

Before pronouncing an article complete (in no specific order and depending on the brief), we scrutinise grammar, punctuation, and our word choices. We ruthlessly cut words and sentences to avoid creating novellas posts. We make sure we articulated our ideas in an active voice. We spot the apostrophe catastrophes. All the while, carefully adding SEO keywords to blend them naturally and not come across as too salesy (aka selling in a superficial manner). We spot the “grammar expletives,” as SmartBlogger calls them. We ensure variety. We transform the introduction at the end of all the edit fun to hook readers. We analyse the headline using professional tools to entice the reader to click on the “read more” button. And we neatly tie up the pieces so readers will leave satisfied. Not to even elaborate on the intricate art of storytelling to ignite a fire in the audience…

Being a professional writer involves more than writing words. In fact, being a professional at anything requires more than what the final product might represent.

We’re artists.

With that in mind, I’m troubled by one singular thought when a random “marketing professional” on LinkedIn mocks me over a trivial error I made in a comment:

Some people simply thrive on breaking others down.

Fortunately, I’m like a Kangaroo Rat. I rely mostly on my spring-loaded ninja skills to dodge a rattlesnake’s venomous fangs.

A Kangaroo Rat in action. Check it out for fun.

In other words, I have the ability to take snarly judgement with a grain of salt, not respond in anger, and embrace the lesson.

While it might seem counter-intuitive, I also find that allowing more freedom for mistakes naturally creates conditions where fewer errors occur. Thus, leaving room for more productivity and fun.

Isn’t that the point of creation?

If you are a freelancer, business owner, leader, student, parent, or human, I want you to know, it’s OK to make mistakes. And I invite you to acquire some spring-loaded ninja skills of your own to gracefully handle unsolicited criticism.

Graphic by Celesté Polley

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Focus on expanding your capacity for small errors in a positive way. Look for the lesson. And cultivate kindness in your heart to hold a safe space for everyone (including yourself) to learn, grow, and have fun.

As Bob Ross would say:

“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

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