We use the term "mistake" in various situations for one specific reason. Mistakes are events that happen in one's life that one regrets and wishes had never happened. In many situations, one uses the term "mistake" because the situation was out of character for them, and they do not plan on the situation happening again. Although this description of the term seems very obvious to most, people seem to be very oblivious to an important connection that can be made with this term. In our society, MANY people judge harshly when hearing of or witnessing others' mistakes. If you understand that "mistakes" are acts done out of character that does not define who an individual is, it is impractical to judge an individual off the mistakes they have made.
I could act tough and claim that I do not care what others think, but that is far from the truth. I take to heart every comment and judgment that is made about me, even when I know the judgment is based on my past mistakes. I used to stay in on nights that my friends were all out in fear of running into people who I was aware had made prior judgments about me. I used to dodge people like bullets that I only suspected knew about situations, avoiding any contact at all costs. I was dead set on the thought that these people hated me and wanted nothing to do with me. I avoided them mostly out of embarrassment, but also because I knew I could not come face to face with the comments that they could say, even if it was only a possibility that something was said. This did not happen once or twice but constantly. I lived in fear of humiliation and judgment. All because of a mistake.
Looking back on all the moments I missed out on and reminiscing on the feelings I had, it is truly depressing. It saddens me just thinking about how much I used to value the opinions of people who obviously did not even value me as a person. It is upsetting to look back on the past and be able to see clearly as day that I let irrelevant opinions control my happiness instead of being true to myself. It is obvious to me now that back then I did not have enough confidence in myself to stay true to who I was and know that those mistakes were falsely characterizing. Instead, I allowed irrelevant opinions and judgments to define both me and my happiness. Since then, I have learned to live my life without fearing what others think. I will not repeat past mistakes because they are not who I am, whether others believe that or not is now irrelevant to me. I know who I am and I know that the mistakes I have made did not match my character.
If I was able to give one piece of advice to everyone ages 15-30 it would be this, live your life for you. Everyone makes mistakes, and if there are people in your life that don't stand by you when those mistakes are made, then they do not deserve to be in your life. If someone is ignorant enough to judge you off a mistake you made in the past, they do not deserve to be in your future. Surround yourself with people who value you enough that they can tell when you make a mistake because they know your true character. Life is too short to live it in fear of what others think. Everyone makes mistakes. Do not let your mistakes control your happiness. Be strong and know yourself well enough to know when you did something out of character.