The Young Adult's Guide to Learning From Mistakes
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Health and Wellness

The Young Adult's Guide to Learning From Mistakes

Everyone makes them. Here's how to learn from them.

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The Young Adult's Guide to Learning From Mistakes
FreeImages.com/dlritter

Everyone makes mistakes.

Sometimes they can be relatively small, with negligible effects and can occasionally be laughable.(For example, all those people that thought microwaving their iPhones charged them made for great press.) Other times, they can be quite grave, with heavy costs at the worst time possible. But the unavoidable fact is that people mess up every day.

If this is news to you, go ahead and let that sink in for a bit. Once you finish having that epiphany, continue reading.


Moving on, there are three main routes that one can go down after making a mistake. The first is to essentially brush it off and forget about it (read: "What's done is done."). Another path is to focus on that mistake endlessly and let it eat away at your soul for eternity - wonderful proposition, right? The final path wanders somewhere in the middle, a wavy path that doesn't necessarily teeter toward any of the other two in particular.

All of these paths have their time and place. A good place to be for the first path is for the stupid mistakes in life, like using salt instead of sugar in baking a dessert. The middle path is best for the microwaved-iPhone situation. The only real situation I can see for that other path is if a villain has slain your loved ones and you use your angst to avenge them in a Harry-Potter-like fashion, but who am I to judge?

For many people, this is where the lessons on making mistakes stop: you know what to do when you make mistakes, end of story. But there isn't really a protocol for deciding which path to take with every mistake you make in life. What to do once you've chosen a path can also be a mystery. Going on from a mistake without this sort of protocol is in fact a mistake in itself. (Mistake-ception, if you will.) While making mistakes can be a good, educational experience, the lack of this sort of protocol in people's minds deprives them of that educational opportunity.

Lucky for you readers, I am here to give you a foolproof way to decide how to move on properly from mistakes, using the experiences from myself as well as from family and friends. It's a very simple checklist, really, with only a few steps. Sometimes the steps can be easier said than done, but that's the nature of having made a mistake in the first place, Using these steps you can gauge which path to take and ultimately move on knowing better.

1. Reflect on what happened.

So you made a mistake. But do you know what the mistake was? Do you know what effect(s) the mistake had on the setting and people around you? This first step is just a recap of what you did wrong.

2. Initiate damage control.

Call if remedy if you want. This is where you right your wrong, and it can come in many forms. You might have to pay people. You'll probably have to apologize to some people. You'll most definitely have to be able to show that you know you made a mistake. Be ready to do almost anything if your mistake affected people you care about or people who care about you.

3. Go down the right path.

A more formal term could be "execution". It's from here that you choose one of the paths. For the little, everyday mistakes, you can go ahead down the first path and forget those. For the middle-ground mistakes, you can go down the middle path and work things out as they come up. For the more serious mistakes, you really have to go down the final path and do a bit of extra reflection. This is because by the nature of these serious mistakes, they usually come out as the result of a problem as opposed to being from a one-time accident. Which brings us to...

Bonus Step: So you ended up down the serious-mistake path...

That's ok too. It really is. What matters is the extra thought you need to put in to solve the problem. The best way is to a) talk to those your mistake has affected and listen to them, and b) reflect on the issue yourself as well. From there, make a plan of action so that nothing like that happens again. As a personal example, I am a forgetful person. I solved that by literally putting sticky notes up all around my room with things on my to-do list, upcoming events, choreography I make, ideas for things I want to cook, etc.

That being said, you have to think about the problem in a productive way. What you do not want to do is excessively worry or beat yourself up about anything. This effort goes to waste, as these are not productive actions. The fact is that you are not the mistake. You are a person who just happened to make a mistake. You have to tackle the issue, not tackle yourself, and that's where objective problem-solving can help keep you stay productive and think healthily.


Everyone makes mistakes. They are an inevitable part of life. I've had it told to me many times so I remember it, and in turn I've told others many times as well. What matters is how you move on from yours to benefit yourself and the people around you, which is what I hope anyone and everyone can pull from this introductory article on the subject.

May all your mistakes be the fun-stupid kind, and not the iPhone-gullible kind~

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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