The Things You’ll Beat Yourself Up For

I’ve always been amazed at how maturity kicks in and makes me look back on the past with a bit of shame. See, I did things as a teen and young adult that I would never even think of doing now. Although I got away with it then, I don’t want to tempt fate and try to get away with it now. There’s more to lose now if I try the shenanigans of old.

No, I’m not going to tell you what I did. Suffice it to say that it wasn’t anything criminal. Unethical and immoral? Depends on who you ask. But I did hurt feelings and disappoint people — important people — in my life. A couple of those people saw me as invincible, indefatigable, and leading an almost perfect life. After they found out what I did, they saw me as human and not some machine that never makes mistakes.

dancing_vader
More man than dancing machine.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. As I’ve grown up and matured, a lot of my personal heroes have fallen from the pedestal and crashed into the ground. And, you know what? I’ve admired them more for their comeback than the disillusionment I felt when they fell. The really important people in my life have told me that they feel the same way toward me… That it was actually a relief to know that I’m fallible and that they too will make huge, albeit recoverable mistakes.

Still, I sometimes look back and think to myself, “WTF, Ren?”

anakin_mistake
Not that I brought the Force into darkness or anything like that.

Then I do an evaluation of the circumstances surrounding my mistake and realize that what happened pretty much had to happen. Or, at the very least, what happened was a natural result of all possible scenarios, even if that scenario is the worst possible timeline. All of it seen through the eyes of the oldest version of me out there, the one with the most experience and, hopefully, the most wisdom.

Perhaps the best thing I’ve learned to do as I’ve grown up is to stop beating myself up about the things that I’ve done. They’re done, over, in the past. Sure, the consequences may still be happening (or they may happen in the future), but there is plenty I can do to remedy the consequences, mitigate the disaster.

I’m sure that in the future there will be something that seems like a really good idea — or something that I can get away with at the time — but it turns out to be a really, really bad idea.

yellow_car_fail
The schematics were off a bit.

And when that happens, I hope to have the same kind of support I’ve had thus far in beating the things in my past. That, and a helmet. And some shin guards.

I'm a doctoral candidate in the Doctor of Public Health program at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. All opinions posted here are my own, of course, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my school, employers, friends, family, etc. Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @EpiRen

4 thoughts on “The Things You’ll Beat Yourself Up For

  1. But you have learned from each and every one of those experiences. My son and I just had this same discussion on Saturday. I guess we have to go through these things to learn and become a better and wiser person on the other side of them. And look how smart and wise you are now!!!!

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    • Thanks, Karol. And one of those people who helped me grow was Ray. There were several times when I’d be in his office not because of something I’d done at the lab as a tech but because of something I’d done in my life as a young man. I remember him taking off his glasses and rubbing the bridge of his nose after I told him how bad a relationship had soured. Then he gave me some very good advice on how to move on.

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