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.
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?”
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.
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.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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