When was the last time you made a mistake or said the wrong thing? Perhaps you put your foot in your mouth or hurt someone’s feelings unintentionally. We’ve all done it. As you read this, you’re probably thinking about the mistake you just dismissed. Yes, that one!
I guess the real question is – when you made a mistake, what did you learn from it? For the sake of argument, we will discuss one of my (many) mistakes.
The Topic of My Mistake: Putting My Foot in My Mouth.
It went something like this:
One beautiful autumn afternoon, I arrived home from work to find my neighbor (let’s call her Tania), sitting on the railing of the wrap-around porch. Like Tania, I rented an apartment in the multi-family dwelling, my gracious Stepmother owned.
Tania lived in the attic apartment, above me, on the second floor. I knew when she was home - the slamming door and noise level above, told the story. My reindeer hearing usually heard everything, but for several months, the noise level reduced drastically from her apartment. I figured it was because we now had different schedules and saw each other less often.
Time flies when life happens! Before you know it, days, weeks, and then months passed. When I finally saw Tania sitting on that railing, all I noticed was the baby bump. That’s why I haven’t seen her. I thought. It all made sense.
I’m not judgmental – But I did speculate, allowed my mind to wander. Was she busy getting things ready for her new family, maybe spending time with her baby’s father, or preparing to move to a bigger place? I was trying to get a better understanding - a clearer picture.
“Hey Tania! It’s so good to see you,” I said arriving at the top step of the porch. Trying not to stare at her baby bump.
“Good to see you too,” She said with a half-smile. She looked down and exhaled.
Again, I'm not judging you Tania. I thought to myself, while keeping my poker face. I would never want to hurt her feelings.
Everything will be okay. I thought. I’m naturally a hugger. I did as expected, second nature to my friendly smile – You guessed it! Relating to the new young mother, I looked directly into her eyes – with a reassuring look and hugged her. I said to myself.
“So, when is the baby due?” I asked, while touching her baby bump.
Her head dropped. She shook it back and forth without a smile.
It’s worse than I thought. I assumed.
She looked at me sideways and said, “I’m not pregnant. I’m just fat.”
Without losing eye contact, I removed my hands from her stomach in 3-D slow motion. Think quick girlie. You need to fix this. I said to myself.
My instincts kicked in and moved me to do the following: I grabbed a chunk of – what would later form the beginnings of a muffin top, and, I responded, “Girl, I’ve been trying to lose weight too, I’m sorry.”
She laughed. Then we laughed, together. Tania was a good sport. Nevertheless, I still felt so bad. What was I thinking? Clearly, I wasn’t thinking! I assumed she was pregnant and touched her stomach. OUCH! How crazy was that?
What I learned – Next time, think of a better save, smoother line, or quicker comeback? No! Think before speaking. Be sincere and honest with the person you offended. Don’t forget to apologize.
What could I have done differently? - I could have minded my own business - But, we were neighbors, so-called friends, right? – What’s the harm in asking a question?
Here’s the problem. I made a thoughtless mistake. Relationships have been on bad terms over worse.
Measure twice. Cut once.
This expression, well known in carpentry - conveys the necessity to double check your measurements before cutting any materials – Doing so, minimizes mistakes, wasted materials, time, and money.
This has been a wonderful practical lesson regarding mistakes and life in general.
Meaning, we should give careful consideration and think about a matter before responding or taking action - whether giving advice, providing counsel, sending an email, or responding to a text, the list goes on.
In Life, we as imperfect people - will make mistakes. When you do, instead of looking for excuses, own it, and make amends.
Yes, I still make mistakes, but my foot stays out of my mouth a lot less these days. *smiling* But, I’m also quick to say, I’m sorry!
*For my writers – especially new writers, in the beginning, don’t worry about mistakes. You will make them. This is part of the writing process, the beginning phase. Write. Write. Write.
Did you make another mistake? Why do you think they made erasers? Keep at it. You will see progress. I promise you. Why are you afraid? You just might succeed at this writing thing.
*And, for everyone else, you might just succeed at this thing called LIFE.
I am your Cheerleader. You can do this! Keep up the good work.
Do you care to share a mistake you made? What did you learn from it? I promise not to judge.
~ Ms. Zipporah