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Campus Overload
Posted at 11:02 AM ET, 08/09/2011

#College101: Mistakes are inevitable


Today’s guest blogger is Peter Buffett, a composer, musician, philanthropist and author of “Life Is What You Make It.”

I’ve observed that, especially in difficult or uncertain times, many people seem terribly afraid of making mistakes — as if a mistake were a personal humiliation from which one would never recover, the dreaded “black mark” on the permanent record.

But that’s just not how it is. Mistakes are very seldom permanent; most of them can be fixed with less difficulty and drama than one imagines, and there’s nothing shameful about making them. There is, however, something sad and limiting about the fear of making them.

If we let ourselves be controlled by the fear of stumbling, we can walk only the widest, most-trod paths. If we refuse to cut ourselves some slack for messing up, then we’ll be disinclined to take chances; and if we don’t take chances, we may never find our passion or our truest selves. If we’re afraid that the beat of our own drummer might lead us to a misstep, then we can only march along with everybody else.

When we come up with a wrong answer to one of life’s innumerable questions (like what major to choose or which internship offer to take), we are at least one step closer to a right answer — or at least the answer that’s right for us.

In short, we grow by messing up.

And you know what? Even if we play it as safe as we possibly can, we’ll make mistakes anyway! Everybody does. Mistakes are inevitable. They’re part of life.

If life is what we make it, and if we want our lives to be vivid and authentic, then we have to accept the fact that we will mess up now and then along the way. Admit when errors happen, forgive ourselves for making them, and most of all, learn from them.

No mistake should go to waste!

(This was adapted from Buffett’s best-selling book, “Life Is What You Make It,” and reprinted with permission from Harmony Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group.)

Every day in August, Campus Overload will feature a 300-word-or-less essay centered around one piece of #College101 advice for the Class of 2015. To participate, e-mail Jenna at johnsonj@washpost.com.

By Peter Buffett  |  11:02 AM ET, 08/09/2011

Categories:  College 101

 
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