Opinion Column

Mistakes good for healthy growth

AMY CHAN, amyfabulous.com

During my 20s, I made so many mistakes. I hurt people I loved and behaved in ways that I can't say I'm proud of.

As much as I messed up, however, I wouldn't take any of my mistakes back. They taught me valuable lessons that shaped the person I've become today.

A good friend of mine told me, "Your twenties are for screwing up. You don't act according to your values because you're still establishing them." His words ring true. While I think I've got a good grip on my moral compass and fundamental set of values, I'm still shaping my character to this day. I will probably continue doing so for the rest of my life.

It is human to make mistakes. Some mistakes are witnessed by others and come with more shame; some are in private and come with more guilt. Some hurt others, and some ultimately hurt only you.

In a life where trial and error is often how we learn, preventing mistakes is not realistic. However, making different choices the next time around to avoid repeating the same mistake is completely in your control.

Where we differ as human beings is the choices we make after we falter. I distinguish the difference in two separate groups. There are those who use regret and remorse as a catalyst to grow and become better people. The consequences of their mistakes serve as reminders to do things differently to avoid repeating the same situations.

Then, there are those who feel ashamed by their shame. After a period of self-loathing and guilt, they resort back to their exact same way of thinking and behaviour. Instead of the mistake becoming a lesson, it becomes just another cyclical loop in habits.

How do you respond when you make a mistake? If your mistake leaves a trail of hurt and destruction in the lives of others, do you make amends and apologize with actions and empathy? Or are the people that reap the consequences of your mistake a mere casualty of your disregard?

What builds character is not avoiding mistakes - it's how you choose to think and act afterwards. Use your mistakes as opportunities to grow. Hopefully, you can "make better mistakes tomorrow."