Directions to the Clean Slate

Directions to the Clean Slate

It is time to let go of our mistakes and give ourselves the fresh start we deserve.
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“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” ~Johnny Cash

We have all heard time and again that it is perfectly normal for us to make mistakes. With that said, we always seem to have a difficult time letting them go. Sure, we can brush off that insignificant mix up at work no problem, but it is a lot harder to forget how we hurt the feelings of someone we care for. Sometimes our mistakes stick with us, they pile up, and soon we are haunted by them. The truth of the matter is that we allow ourselves to be constantly reminded. Whether it is because we live in fear of repeating the mistake or we feel like we deserve to be punished for it, we burden ourselves by holding on. After a while, living in regret can affect our daily lives. When this happens, it is time to give ourselves a break, let it all go, and give ourselves a clean slate. While it does not erase any damage or mean that everything in life will be mistake-free from this point onward, we can move on with our lives without being bogged down by regrets. Let us assemble our clean slate.

The first step is to accept that while we all make mistakes, no one will feel their gravity more than the person who made them. Very rarely is someone forcing us to relive or mentally torture ourselves over our mess-ups. We do it to ourselves. Sure, a certain person or event may cause us to be reminded, but they do not demand us to continue replaying the memories. Our loved ones may offer sympathy or advice, but they cannot stop us from tossing and turning all night wishing we did things differently. In other words, we are only harming ourselves by replaying it all in our heads. No one else feels our pain, and no one else can let it go.

The second and hardest step is to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we made. They happened. They are done. We are not doing any favors by allowing ourselves to hurt, dwell, and whine “why, oh why did I do that?” Instead, we can learn and grow. Let’s take the lesson of the mistake with us, not the mistake itself. We cannot do that if we are feeling sorry for ourselves about them. While forgiving ourselves can be easier said than done depending on the gravity of our situation, it is the vital step to obtaining a fresh start. Bear in mind, forgiving ourselves will be easier if we learn not to think about what might have been if we did or did not do that one thing, or if we did it differently. It is impossible to know and focusing on it will do nothing but bring more upset. The past is finished, but we have an opportunity with the future, especially if we let go of our wrongs, come to peace with ourselves, and move toward that sought after clean slate.

Yes, there are some mistakes that are heftier than others, thus making them harder to release. Sometimes those mistakes morph into baggage. What is vital is that we do not become defined by said baggage. Let it be a layer, like our guilty pleasures or flaws. We are human, we are imperfect, and we all have some form of baggage that may be checked for inspection through the airport security of our peers. We are not the baggage; we are the vacationers who lug it around. But we can lighten it by not putting all our dirty laundry into it, but only the appropriate amount of thought souvenirs. Whether our respective mistakes are carryon-sized, suitcase-sized, tiny and ultimately insignificant, or gigantic and life-altering, odds are we are the only ones who are going to carry their weight. The fact of the matter is, we do not have to. We do not have to dwell on them or let them define our lives. We can accept them, forgive ourselves, and carry onward.

Finally, embrace the future with an open mind. The future is where the clean slate begins. Anything can happen at the future. It’s clean, it’s open, it’s ours. Let’s not go in there afraid of messing it up. And it is certain, with us being human, that we are going to mess up again on some scale. Just because it is inevitable does not mean the cycle of holding on has to continue. Now that we know how to let go, we can polish the slate to keep it clean. It does not have to become dirty or burdened with regrets or memories of mishaps. So, let’s carry it into the future.

Everyone wants a fresh start from time-to-time. For some, this means packing up all their possessions and leaving the past behind in a physical sense. But, as we are all aware, beginning again externally does not matter unless we can begin again internally. That is why it is handy to have a clean slate to carry with us wherever we may go. All that we truly need to do is look inwardly and accept what has passed. Let the past rest where it belongs, and let the mistakes stay there with it. It is now time to take our lessons (minor or major), forgive ourselves, and admire just how shiny our new slate is.

Challenge: Let go of one mistake. Let’s identify a single regret we made that we are clinging to (that one major hiccup at work, a failed test grade because of lack of preparation, breaking a promise to our best friend, etc.) and make our peace with it. We deserve more than to be left dwelling on the past . . . we owe it to ourselves to forgive ourselves.

Cover Image Credit: Tara Barksdale

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50 Things To Be Happy About

It's the little things in life.
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It is always easier to pick out the negatives in life. We tend to dwell on them and drown out the happy moments. I asked a friend to tell me something that made them happy. They sarcastically laughed at my question then thought about it for a minute. Nothing. But they could easily come up with things that made them unhappy. Then I read them my list, and they were smiling and laughing in agreement the whole time. There are so many more things to be happy and laugh about than we realize. After all- it's the little things in life that can mean the most! Here are 50 things that make me happy. What are your 50?

  1. The first warm day of the year
  2. Laughing so hard your abs ache
  3. Freshly washed sheets
  4. Looking through old pictures
  5. The smell of a coffee shop
  6. Eating cookie dough
  7. Reading a bible verse that perfectly fits your current situation
  8. Seeing someone open a gift you got them
  9. Eating birthday cake
  10. A shower after a long day
  11. Marking something off your to-do list
  12. Drinking ice cold water on a really hot day
  13. Dressing up for no reason
  14. Breakfast food
  15. Being able to lay in bed in the morning
  16. Finding something you love at the store
  17. And it’s on sale
  18. Cute elderly couples
  19. When a stranger compliments you
  20. Getting butterflies in your stomach
  21. Taking a nap
  22. Cooking something delicious
  23. Being lost for words
  24. Receiving a birthday card in the mail
  25. And there's money in it
  26. Finally cleaning your room
  27. Realizing how fortunate you are
  28. Waking up from a nightmare and realizing it wasn't real
  29. Fresh fruit
  30. Walking barefoot in the grass
  31. Singing along to a song in the car
  32. Sunrises
  33. Sunsets
  34. Freshly baked cookies with a glass of milk
  35. Summertime cookouts
  36. Feeling pretty
  37. Looking forward to something
  38. Lemonade
  39. Comfortable silences
  40. Waking up in the middle of the night and realizing you have more time to sleep
  41. Surviving another school year
  42. The cold side of the pillow
  43. The smell of popcorn
  44. Remembering something funny that happened
  45. Laughing to yourself about it
  46. Feeling weird about laughing to yourself
  47. Printed photographs
  48. Wearing a new outfit
  49. The sound of an ice cream truck
  50. Feeling confident
Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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Take The Time To Pronounce Names Correctly, They Mean A Lot

What's in a name? Plenty.

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Names are often one of the first labels we get. It often makes us who we are and is deeply embedded in our sense of self. It's the word the world knows you as. Many people change their names to make them feel more like themselves. This speaks volumes to the effect a name has on you.

A name is a word like any other, just used to label someone. Like any other word, saying the word properly is important, especially because it is tied so closely to someone's sense of self.

Butchering someone's name consistently is simply unacceptable. Sure some names may be harder to pronounce and may seem unnatural but not trying is not okay. If you can get names like Stravinsky and Chmerkovskiy, a Nandini, Radhika, or Namrata shouldn't be too hard.

For some reason, it often seems like people have a hard time pronouncing names of people of color, which honestly seems a little odd to me considering many caucasian names are just as unconventional.

Comedian Hasan Minhaj recently appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and addressed this issue. He pointed out that no one has an issue with the name Ansel Elgort, but they seem to have an issue with his name. Later, he joked that he goes by the name Timothée Chalamet at Starbucks, which they can handle just fine.

Mistakes are okay. We're all human and you're not expected to get everything correct on the first try. But simply accepting that you can't say it and not making an effort is disrespectful.

You don't need to say the name in the accent of the culture it's from. Say it in your accent but like any other word, keep the same number of syllables and put an emphasis on the correct vowels. Eventually, getting it will expand your horizons just a little bit more. Either way, trying is better than not trying.

That being said, to the people that need to correct others' pronunciation on their name, do it. If you don't tell people how to pronounce it, you can't expect them to get it properly. Many of us introduce ourselves with a name that isn't truly ours; it's a version that accommodates others.

Remember though, there is no shame in your beautiful, unique name so there is no need to anglicize it. Your parents didn't give you that name for it to fit better in other people's mouths.

Our names make up a large part of our basic identity and getting it right is beneficial for everyone.

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