OPINION: Life gets easier when you learn to make mistakes

Here is the greatest life lesson that I can personally teach you:

Make as many mistakes as you can while you’re young, and when you do, don’t panic. Mistakes happen, and that’s okay because you’re young and still learning.

If I hadn’t learned this lesson a while ago, I would panic every time something goes wrong (which is a lot for me). So here’s a word of advice: nothing ever goes as planned.

For me, this is especially true when I travel. By the time I turned 18, I started traveling on my own and seeing the world. The first place I went to was Hawaii. A hundred things went wrong, including being stuck in my Airbnb, isolated from Uber drivers, taxis and neighbors, all without a car.

As an 18 year old it was terrifying. However, I didn’t let it stop me from experiencing what I wanted. I solved every problem with as much logic as possible and was lucky enough to have parents to call when things got out of hand. In the end, I came away with stories to tell and lessons learned.

However, this mindset doesn’t just apply to travel. As students we are bound to make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean you should give up and leave. Whether you’re sleeping through a big test or finding yourself in an awkward situation after a night out, you need to move on. Don’t dwell on something you can’t change, and don’t let yourself be scared into never trying again.

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You can’t be afraid of things going wrong for the rest of your life. Instead, expect things to go wrong.

If I went into every situation with the mindset that everything had to go perfectly, I would be disappointed time and time again. But messing up doesn’t mean you failed – messing up is a learning experience. With each mistake, you learn a little more about yourself. You know what not to do next time and how to handle the situation better.

These errors can be small or large.

A small example would be skipping class one too many times. Each student decides that he does not need to attend classes occasionally. It can become a habit, and by the end of the year you hardly know what’s going on in the classroom.

It’s happened to the best of us.

It doesn’t seem like there will be any consequences at the moment, but there almost always are. Whether you fail the finals or lose a potential connection to a professor, you’ve taken a hit in your education. It’s not life or death, however. Although you can always expect consequences, you can often minimize them if you take the proper steps to correct them.

However, not learning from this mistake and continuing the same pattern the next semester will become detrimental. Soon you won’t be able to correct all these errors. So take the lesson and learn from it. Change your behaviors and grow as a person and a student.

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A large-scale error can also often occur in your life. The mistake can have significant repercussions, whether on a night out or on a trip around the world. These mistakes shape who we are as human beings because they are essential to becoming who we are.

You can’t avoid these mistakes and you can’t prepare for them. When they happen, stay calm and focus your full attention on solving the problem. No matter the outcome, try to learn from the situation.

Whether you’re a freshman looking forward to the next four years, terrified and determined to be perfect, or a senior preparing for the real world, take it one day at a time. If you expect to be perfect, let that dream die. It will not arrive.

Don’t let failures drag you down. How you react to the error determines the results. So keep calm and learn from it.

Gentry Keener (her) is a second-year journalism and political science student.

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