“A man’s errors are his portals of discovery.” -James Joyce
When you were little, did you ever rip up a picture you’d worked really hard on just because you colored a little out of the lines?
I was that girl; and I had a similar experience this weekend.
I decided to make lasagna for this potluck party my boyfriend and I were going to host. I don’t cook often, so this felt like a big deal. I got all the ingredients the night before, stacked them on the counter, and then admired them. They were the pieces of my saucy masterpiece to be.
The next day, I realized I’d made several mistakes, including buying the wrong type of noodles and failing to buy a bowl large enough for the massive cheese concoction.
Since oven-ready lasagna noodles don’t break easily, I went through an entire box trying to perfectly fill in all the gaps in the pan. When my lasagna ended up looking like the food equivalent of Charlie Brown’s sad Christmas tree, I seriously considered tossing it out, even though there wasn’t time to buy ingredients for another.
I decided instead to push through my perfectionist instincts because this has been a pattern in my life: start something and quit if I think I’ve messed it up.
Last week I wrote about the beauty of starting over, but as with everything in life, it’s not universally applicable. Sometimes we need to start fresh, but sometimes we need to keep going, through the messiness and imperfection. I haven’t always done this well.
When I’ve made huge mistakes with friends, I’ve wanted to hide or bail. When I’ve messed up royally with jobs, I’ve wanted to call in sick or quit.
It can feel vulnerable to be present in a situation where you feel you’re struggling or not showing yourself in the best light, but this is how we grow: by stretching ourselves through discomfort instead of shutting down.
This is how we get closer to others, closer to our dreams, and closer to the people who we want to be. It’s how we learn about ourselves and identify areas for improvement.
Things are going to feel messy and imperfect lots of times in life. We can either resist that and run whenever things feel out of control, or lean into the mistakes and learn from every one.
Photo by renaissanechambara