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Why It Is OK to Make the Same Mistakes

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Charles Maraia via Getty Images
Charles Maraia via Getty Images

I dropped a hot iron on the carpet once. In college. I was in grad school, a teaching assistant, and needed a wrinkle-free, button-down blouse to wear for the first day of class. I wanted to look crisp. Clean. Professional.

I set up the ironing board in the living room of my brand-new apartment. My roommate and I had just moved in, and the walls were eggshell white, the carpet that college-apartment brown and the rooms empty, yet full of promise of parties and studying and independence.

I was almost done ironing, the blouse nearly free of creases, when I stood the iron up on the ironing board to check something in the kitchen. All of a sudden, I heard a THUD and a sizzle. I ran into the living room and gasped.

There the iron sat, hot soleplate down, right on the new carpet.

"No, no, no," I said, running over to grab the iron's handle. "Do not do this to me." I picked up the iron off the floor. Sure enough, the carpet was singed, the woven tops burnt off like cigarette butts.

Crap.

As a solution, I dragged the couch over the burnt spot, concealing the iron mark and my mistake, and that was that for the rest of the school year. I would have forgotten about the incident all together, but then it came time to move out in the spring. The landlord wasn't too pleased once he saw what was hiding under our couch. He informed me that, because of the nice branding I had done, all of the living room carpet needed to be replaced. The Burnt Carpet Incident cost me about $800 and a lot of mental abuse on my end.

I wish I could say that was the first time I ruined carpet, but alas, it is not. As a teenage girl growing up in a house carpeted in white (my parents were setting me up for failure by making this interior decision, I swear), a bottle of beige concealer once made a splash from makeup counter to floor. Same goes for the black mascara. And the blue eye shadow.

It's not just carpet, I'm afraid. I'm a repeat offender with the many mistakes I've made. Losing my driver's license. Forgetting directions. Burning the Chicken Alfredo.

And those are just the easy ones, the softies, the little life situations that aren't too life-altering.

I've repeatedly chosen the wrong career. Been victim to my own self-doubts and insecurities. Dated the wrong guy...then went back to him. Again. And again.

People say, "Don't make the same mistake twice" or "Don't make the same mistakes I did." I get that. I do.

But here's the thing: Mistakes happen. And they happen more than once. We can't be perfect all the time, and sometimes that involves learning the same lesson more than once.

It's OK.

It's OK to make the same mistake twice, mess up, go backwards instead of forwards. It's hard, yes. It hurts, yes. The problem is, we get hung up on our mistakes, and then hang ourselves out to dry.

Hand me a hanger and I'll add that silky mistake to my Life Mishaps closet
, we say. Then I will clothe myself daily in that label of FAILURE and frustration.

We aren't perfect. We are human. If you make the same mistake more than once, it doesn't mean you're a failure. It just means you had more left to learn from that situation.

If you keep trying, if you keep forgiving yourself, if you put one foot in front of the other regardless of the potholes you may find yourself falling into more than once, eventually you will learn the way. Your way.

Just keep learning. Keep trying.

It is ideal to avoid making the same mistake twice. But is it realistic all the time? I hope not, for me and the carpet's sake.