I was 17, posting in an online forum being incredibly insensitive.
At 17, you don’t really think about how current actions will impact the future.
Until at 26, that mistake comes back to haunt you. And you feel terrible for what happened at 17.
I had completely forgotten about that online forum and all the posts I’d written, honestly. But it doesn’t take away from what I said.
I’d like to think that I’m a MUCH different person at 26 than I am at 17. I’d like to think that I may make mistakes, but I am kinder, more understanding, more sensitive, more respectful…and more cautious about what I say and do.
Part of owning your identity is owning who you are-mistakes and all. When you make mistakes, hurt feelings, say things you shouldn’t say…you don’t shrink away from them. You don’t make excuses. Really even no need to explain what you thought you were trying to do (unless the other person is demanding an explanation). You apologize. You own up to your mistakes. And vow to do better. And then do it.
Who you are at this very moment is the sum of your failures, mistakes, triumphs and success. Your mistakes (especially if you learn from them) teach you more than your success. Life has humbled me in ways that I couldn’t have imagined at 17. I cringe at my 17-year-old self. Heck, I cringe at my 20-year-old self (another post for another time)…and I think the current me is more prepared for what I do now (working with disadvantaged college students, funny cause at one point I was considered ‘disadvantaged’).
Extend grace not only to others, but yourself as well. Forgive yourself for past mistakes. Allow yourself room to grow. But keep your word. Your word is all you have. If you don’t have that? You don’t have integrity, which means, you don’t have much of anything.
Don’t let your past haunt you. Let it push you to be a better human being, extending compassion for those with similar pasts (as well as different). When your past comes calling? Let it be your motivation for doing better.
When you know better, do better.