I wrote this for STEMedia back in July and it still resonates as I continue to figure out my personal journey through graduate school.
I’m sure we’ve all had those moments in life where we give into frustration and call ourselves everything awful thing we can think of. Largely, this comes as we reflect on the mistakes we’ve made and the path some of those mistakes have set some of us on. How many times have you said to yourself, “I should have done x, y and z”, “I hate that I took this Calculus class with such and such”, “I feel like a failure.” If you haven’t had these moments, keep living, they do come. These frustrating moments are important, but what is more important is that you sit with them but do not stay there. So, how do you start to change your perspective and see your mistakes in a different light? After all, they say perspective is everything, right? Here are 5 tips to help reinterpret your mistakes:
You are EXACTLY who you needed to be for that moment in your life: This is first and probably one of the most important. I’m a believer that life has unique ways of teaching us things and bringing out the parts of us we often do not realize we need. Yes, you made a mistake, but you were where and who you needed to be in that moment. If that moment elevated you in any capacity to a better version of yourself, then you were enough. Even in this moment, if you’re dealing with a mistake, you are who you need to be to overcome this challenge. Trust the timing of your life.
Grant yourself a little empathy:
I was notorious for this at one point in time but we are often too hard on ourselves. Be honest with yourself, but be gentle, you are still growing, still evolving. Grant yourself the same grace you would anyone else in your life and you will find your frustrations become fleeting.
Write, write, write:
This is probably cliché but journaling has literally saved my life. Get some paper, some paints, crayons, or whatever and express yourself however you see fit. I recommend writing and art so that you can go back and read and reflect. Don’t police yourself when you write, your journal or notebook or canvas is your space. Let all of that frustration out because it is you in your most authentic form. As a scientist, I’m all about dates and methods so be sure to date your work, this allows you to go back and read who you were in that moment (see point one). You might even realize that what you thought was huge is merely small potatoes and you can acknowledge your growth.
Nuthin’ but a ”G” thang:
Whatever your ”G” is (spiritual practice), lean on those mantras that you were taught. Reflect on those ideas and realize your place in the universe is so much more than what is distracting you at the moment. In your spiritual practice, whatever it may be, take the time to breath. Feel your breath as you recite those taught principles and give that frustration to the universe. From a science perspective, the universe was created from what would seem like a series of unlikely, unfortunate (mistakes) events and here we are, perfectly able to relish in the aftermath. Ask yourself, do you really think if the universe can be created from what would seem like a series of chemistry lab mistakes, you can’t make it?
We live baybeh, yeaaah:
Get out there and experience the physical world around you. Yes, you may have made mistakes, but you are still here and still can live and make the most of life. Grab a jump rope and keep it with you, as someone who enjoys boxing, you can keep a rope and hop for a few minutes so that those endorphins flow. Look at the macro perspective of and physically get involved with yourself and the world around you. Walk, run, skip and talk to yourself.
You are your own best work and even when you are frustrated you are still you. There is no one like you and your experiences matter. Tell your story, frustrations and all. Mistakes do no define us, how we live through them and who we become is all that matters.
I hope this helps someone who may be discouraged.