The Meaning of Mistakes: A Guest Post by My Teenage Daughter

When I launched my blog, I told my thirteen year old daughter we could learn the technical stuff together and that maybe she could have her own Thesis blog some day. By the end of the day, she’d written this post for ‘hers’ and shown it to me. Whether you have kids or not, grandchildren or tweenagers, I hope you’ll understand why this made me melt with pride. I haven’t edited a single thing. Please welcome my daughter, ‘JD’; I called this blog Sharing The Journey because of her.

The Meaning of Mistakes by JD

There have been many times in my life, when thoughts along these lines have entered my head:

“If only I could turn back time”

“I wish I’d made that decision instead of that one”

“Why did I have to do/say/act like that?”

“I should have kept my mouth shut”

“I should have spoken up”

If only…I wish…why…I should…

Thoughts following actions and decisions that have caused undesirable effects and situations.

Regret. And more regret.

Turns out human beings can’t turn back time. The thing is, would I, even if it was possible?

Well, from my thought processes the obvious answer would be yes. I would be able to save myself from the pain of my mistakes, be able to make what appeared to be the right choices.

I could put in more time and effort for revising for that test … spend my money on something that matters, rather than that silly impulse buy … save myself from blurting out that nasty thought running through my brain … control my anger and apologise in time, to prevent hurting the people I care about. To have shown so much more love and appreciation. I’d be able fix all these things, and more.

But, as I sit here, I’m wondering if the obvious answer is always the right one. I’m thinking about why the universe lets us make mistakes in the first place. Why do people have to go through such pain and anguish, the feeling of helplessness as they know they can’t reverse the past?

For such a big question, is it possible for there to be a simple and uncomplicated answer?

I look around. Stop typing for a long, silent moment. And I think, yes, there is.

Why do we make mistakes? It’s so we can learn.

You’re probably thinking, “How does that work? Learning? How is that supposed to make up for our mistakes?”

It’s simple. We learn from our mistakes. They are there for us to grow, to look back, to think, “I’ve changed since then. I can change.” They’re there so we can see what we’ve done wrong, and if we are ever faced with a similar situation in the future, we can attempt to make a different choice, to be a better human being. Think back – if you had not made those mistakes in your past, would you be the person you are today?

Our mistakes our part of us. They make us. They symbolise that we are only human, that life is not one predictable, easy stretch. That it has many obstacles and tribulations along the way.

Can we always fix our mistakes? No. But we can always learn from them.

And why?

Because we’re not perfect. Because we all make mistakes.


 Which ‘mistakes’ in your life have carried the biggest blessings?


  1. Bravo JD! I wish I was that wise at your age. It is so good to learn these lessons early. When I look at my teen years…I see many many mistakes! But these mistakes made me who I am today. I learned many tough lessons and I would not change a thing (well, maybe 1 or 2…lol). One lesson I wish I learned when I was a teenage would have been…Don’t take it personally. There was so much gossip and back stabbing…and I took it hard. Wish I could have let roll off my back easier…
    .-= Caroline´s last blog ..I have something to admit… =-.

  2. JD,
    What a great first post! Mistakes…yes, we all make them. Growing up, I remember thinking that I had to “fit in”. And that meant hanging out with the cool kids. Or at least trying to. And I never felt accepted – and that was because this was not me. It was who I wanted to be, but only on the surface. Deep down, this wasn’t me. And it meant I wasn’t fully happy. Or connected to “me”. The lesson I learned – which took until well into college – was that it mattered more that I connected with something deep within me, rather than just look “good” on the outside. And going back to high school, and those days when I made the mistake of “faking” who I really was – as much as that hurt then, it was a good lesson for me in trusting in myself…

    You should be very proud of your daughter, what wonderful writing she has!
    .-= Lance´s last blog ..Sunday Thought For The Day =-.

    1. Thanks, Lance. I know I’m biased, but I agree. She’s been writing and drawing, making plays and music all her life, dictating stories for me to transcribe, even before she could write – and she was writing before she turned four! Her fiction stuns me into silence – and that doesn’t happen often!

  3. JD, your mom must be very proud of you to have learned such a valuable lesson at such a young age. Many adults spend their lives always having regrets because they never learn those important lessons, such as when to be quiet, when to speak up, and all those other things you mentioned.

    You are very wise to have learned that our mistakes are part of us. Our mistakes help define who we are, and do indeed make us better people. I once heard someone say, “If the road to the top of the mountain was smooth as glass, we would always be sliding back down. Luckily, the road to the top of the mountain is dangerous, full of crags and sharp rocks. But it is those very sharp rocks, as much as they hurt us, that provide a handhold and a footstep for our ascent up the mountain.”

    It’s the same with our mistakes, isn’t it JD? They hurt us and we feel like fools for a while, but then we realize our mistakes made us wiser, stronger, and more compassionate toward others.

    I know your mom is so proud of you, and so am I! This was a fantastic post and I never would have guessed that it was written by a thirteen year old. I hope to hear more from you!
    .-= Randi´s last blog ..Thursday Thoughts of a Twitterless Thinker 7-23-2009 =-.

  4. Hi JD,

    Thank you for sharing your insight on making mistakes and how we learn from them.

    When I was growing up I remember my Mother saying how we needed to go to the “school of hard knocks”. At the time I didn’t understand what she meant, but as life happened, I learned. Many times I went to “that school” and like you said, it was from the mistakes I made, I grew to become the person I am today.

    Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing, but at the times I was going through those learning lessons, I had many regrets.

    You’re a very wise young girl, JD. I can see why your mom is so proud of you. I look forward to more of your writings – whether here or on your own blog. Happy Blogging! 🙂
    .-= Barbara Swafford´s last blog ..How To Keep Your Blog Alive When Life Calls =-.

  5. JD, like the other commenters, I am impressed your emotional intelligence. When I was your age, I don’t think I was so wise. And the lessons that you are already learning are lessons that I was late coming to … and am still learning. Thank you for your honest post … and a beautiful one at that.

    Janice, you should be proud! 🙂
    .-= Chania Girl´s last blog ..Letter to a Friend, or Where Have I Been All Summer =-.

    1. Thanks CG – I really am proud. I don’t know whether I’m most proud of the writing, her ability to do the hard work that accompanies writing or the fact that the first thing she wrote for her someday blog was a post aimed at encouraging her peers not to beat themselves up!
      (PS Sorry this originally got posted as a response from JD – she’s been using my laptop and just changing the name; I didn’t realise it stayed up every time.)

  6. Hi Janice and JD,

    JD you did a wonderful job with your post. Good for you for having such a great outlook on the concept of “mistakes”.

    As for me, I never believe in the idea of mistakes or in regret. I look at each experience as a life lesson. Some experiences have been positive and others have not been but that is cool. I think a mistake occurs when someone does not learn from the experience. No one is born perfect and no one is perfect. We learn by what we experience.

    Once again, awesome job! 🙂
    .-= Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog ..The Spirit of the Free =-.

    1. Hi Nadia,
      It was a joy to sit and chat about all the different comments with JD; she read every one carefully and with a smile, and wanted to know more about the folk who’d written them.

  7. Welcome JD! I enjoyed reading your thoughts. My biggest mistakes have been when I said “yes”, and didn’t listen to the inner voice that told me I should have said “no.” or vice versa. The greatest blessings to come from this is now I am a mother of 2 children 5 and 7. I said
    ” no” to one person and yes to the RIGHT person. I have taught for 20 years and every life that has crossed my path I have shared many anecdotes to support why it is important to listen to that small inner voice that touches your soul and to follow it. The best part about making mistakes is that as soon as you make it you can NOT make it again because KNOWING is everything and UNDERSTANDING never let’s you forget. It is awesome and one that you are youthful and can see this powerful life lesson that will cross your path many times and test you.
    .-= Cindy´s last blog ..Taking Off =-.

  8. You. Go. Girl.

    This is an amazing perspective and one that a lot of people don’t get no matter what their age. Plus, the other thing about making mistakes is that it sometimes makes your life more interesting. Like it’s horrible when it happens but it’s a really funny story later.

    At least…that is what I tell myself. “It’ll be funny later, dangit!”
    .-= Hayden Tompkins´s last blog ..How to Trust =-.

  9. Hi JD

    I loved your post. When my daughter was your age, I had to put her in a private girl’s home to keep her off the streets and out of trouble with the law. I think she was mad and acting out b/c her dad had died. She was such a daddy’s girl. At the time I was filled with regret that I couldn’t control her and didn’t know how to reach her. I felt like a “bad mom.” But guess what? She came home eighteen months later the daughter I had always imagined. She is twenty now, married, and living with me. She treats me with so much love and respect. We’ve both come to realize what you have — that mistakes are sometimes necessary for us to learn important lessons. Thanks for reminding us of this.

    Janice, your daughter rocks! 🙂
    .-= Brenda´s last blog ..Gospel Song =-.

    1. (Thanks! I think so too! It just makes me so sad that most of my mistakes/learning experiences at the moment are in the way I’m dealing badly with her teenage frustration-fuelled outbursts. We both loved hearing about your daughter and were inspired – thank you for your awe inspiring honesty. )

  10. I believe like Nadia. No such things as mistakes only lessons. The quicker we learn our lessons the less pain we have to deal with. If we choose to learn lessons by observing others we would grow quicker. I decided I would learn how to be a better parent by remembering what I didn’t like about the way I was parented. I went and saw a therapist in order to do this. I also took parenting classes. So we always have a choice about how quickly we want to grow.

    It sounds to me you are advanced for your age and doing quite well! I hope you have your own blog soon. Younger people need to hear what you have to say!
    .-= Tess The Bold Life´s last blog ..“Turn Fear Into Faith” Freebie from Peggy McColl =-.

  11. JD, thank you for caring to share with us!

    You struck the “oh, yes” chord in me. I’ve learned and will treasure the crystallization ~ your gem:

    It’s simple. We learn from our mistakes. They are there for us to grow, to look back, to think, “I’ve changed since then. I can change.”

    Toasting your creative expressiveness and learning adventures to come,

  12. I wholeheartedly agree. With your words JD and the preceeding comments.

    I bet the realisation has left you with an inner peace. A strength that few can fathom.

    Mistakes are the portals of discovery.

    ~ James Joyce
    .-= Marc´s last blog ..Eat Your Heart Out MacGyver =-.

  13. HI JD,
    I am so amazed at your maturity as such a young age.
    I remember my teen days….i was very was very hard on my parents. I only realize that now that i have a daughter too. But, my dear, as you said..we are not all perfect and we all make mistakes. The key is to learn from them..and which i surely did.
    You are on the way to making something very good of yourself. Keep it up and never loose your essence.
    Your Mum must be so proud of you!
    lots of love.
    .-= Zeenat{Positive Provocations}´s last blog ..Wants vs. Needs =-.

  14. Hey everyone!

    Thanks to all of you for your comments. I couldn’t believe it when my mum told me I actually HAD comments – to be honest I hadn’t expected any!! I’m grateful to everyone who has taken time out of their day to share their thoughts and experiences; it makes me so happy. 🙂

    I’m really sorry I haven’t replied individually to each of your comments. I’ve always wondered why my mum spends so long on the computer, and then tells me she’s answering comments – I was like “what’s so hard about that?” But after trying to reply to thirteen different personal, encouraging sweet comments, I realised how difficult it is!! I ended up wanting to write a comment the size of my post to everyone, which, unsurprisingly, didn’t work out.

    Your comments are all full of wisdom and from the heart. I enjoyed reading your past experiences; some made me think “I’ve been there” and others were eye opening. I was also thrilled to read that you enjoyed my writing and wanted to read more – yaaay!! I love writing, and this will encourage me to occasionally remove myself from my teenage angst-ridden problems, and take some time out to calm down and write.

    Thanks again!

    JD x

  15. THANK YOU!
    If you’d seen JD’s face when she realised how many people had commented, you’d know why words aren’t enough to thank you all properly. She was thrilled! This is the kind of lesson she won’t get at school – life wisdom from three different continents!!

    She did try to write to all of you individually and even set up a Word document so that she could write all her replies first then post them, but by the end, she was worried that she was repeating herself and going into too much detail or not writing some replies as long as others. No guesses where she gets the anxiety from, then!

    Thank you for helping me give Sharing the Journey an extra dimension and my daughter a memory she’ll never forget.

  16. Hi JD an d Janice .. it looks like you’ve inherited your Mum’s writing ability and her sense and take on life .. you’d like Dani’s blog over at Positively Present .. she has two .. they may suit you to read them?

    I just wish I’d had your wisdom and help, but in my day we were left to get on with it .. but we get there eventually .. just glad you had a good holiday up at St Andrews .. have a good rest of the holidays too .. enjoy your fresh air .. not too much of this eye boggling stuff .. have fun while you’re young ..

    Love to you both and the family ..
    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..Champagne fruit … anyone? =-.

    1. Aww thank you 🙂 Sounds good! I’ll have a look at them sometime.

      St Andrews was GREAT, we love the beach there. We got it all to ourselves because it was almost completely empty lol. And we ended up eating pizza – I guess old habits don’t change..heehee.

      JD x (and Janice 😉 )

  17. shhhhh…don’t tell anyone…but I don’t answer all my comments either 🙂 I just do what you did JD…one big comment thank you! It’s saves me a lot of time 😉
    .-= Caroline´s last blog ..Molting =-.

    1. That’s good to know.. 🙂 I suppose it’s also easier to do it in the daytime when it’s all sunny, because it was quite late at night when I tried to answer each individually and I was shattered!! Not making excuses or anything.. 😉

      JD x

  18. It’s great to see mother and daughter writers. Oh, the lessons and legacy it all entails. Good for both of you!

    This is great: “Our mistakes are part of us. They make us.” So true! Each choice good or bad is more weaving of the tapestry of our lives. Take out one strand of that weaving and we are not the same.
    .-= Lori Hoeck´s last blog ..Five traits of a narcissistic ‘crazymaker’ =-.

  19. Wow JD! Thank you for sharing your wonderful words of wisdom with us all. I am so impressed with not only your writing skills, but your depth of feeling and understanding, not to mention the ability to language those feelings so beautifully. I will share your words of wisdom with many of my clients and friends. Keep on writing!

  20. @ Lori,
    I’m glad my mum passed on her love of writing to me, and loads of other stuff too! The problem is though, being so alike we tend to argue a LOT more.. 🙂

    Thank you. I admit, at the moment I seem to be making mistakes constantly, and it can get a bit much. But I always remember that I’m MEANT to make these mistakes; you’ve put this so beautifully in your comment.

    @ Judy,
    Thank you so much!! You’ve no idea how great it feels to be encouraged like this. I remember just sitting there, actually asking those questions inside my head. I’m so happy with the response and praise this post has received!

    @ Vered,
    Thanks – but I’m not so sure about the smarter bit! Mistakes scare me too. I always try to learn from them though, even if it’s hard. (And there are some I seem to be making again … and again … and again. I’m hoping it’s just a teenage thing… 🙂 )

    JD x

  21. hi jd, found this post through another blog. well done and keep up the good work. i’m almost certain i would turn back the hands of time and do things differently. yes, we should learn from our mistakes, but sometimes people don’t. sometimes i don’t.
    .-= Natural´s last blog ..Why I Miss The Rotary Phone =-.

  22. You can also decide every choice is a blessing without choosing to judge an experience as a mistake. Congratulations on such a beautiful blog. Collaboration and love not only move mountains, they remind you how capable and encouraging you are to yourselves and others.
    .-= Liara Covert´s last blog ..Reframe remote influencing power =-.

  23. JD, I am so impressed with your depth of thought, courage to post those thoughts and genuine wisdom. You may be young in human years, but you’re an “old soul”. Thanks for sharing this valuable lesson with us. I’m going to have my daughter read it as soon as she gets home. Maybe it will inspire her to write down her thoughts as well.
    .-= Lori´s last blog ..Embracing One’s Aloneness =-.

  24. @ Natural,
    It’s great to see that you found this post through another blog. I hope you’ll have a look at some of my mum’s writing.

    As long as we keep learning, that’s all we can do.

    @ Liara,
    Thank you. It’s been good sharing a bit of my mum’s blogging world.

    I don’t know if it’s my age, but I don’t have the wisdom or experience to see everything as choices right now. Maybe some day I’ll be able to look back and see mistakes as things that just happened, things I can learn from.

    @ Lori,
    Thanks. I don’t usually feel wise or brave, but your comment and all of the other comments have helped me feel good about myself. It’s been a great experience.

    If I do get a blog, I hope your daughter will come over and chat. 🙂

  25. JD,
    Great words and writing – thank you for sharing. I was on a bus or in the rain at St. Ives when you posted this – being attacked by aggressive seagulls! I am sorry I missed meeting you.
    I heard someone say one should only think about a mistake until they learn the lesson or can laugh at themselves. Sometimes very hard to do – I might be laughing all the time if I could follow this idea!
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..Sand In the City 2009 =-.

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