I already knew I didn’t share the same opinion on mistakes with most other people, but only recently I saw it as a sincere misunderstanding.
My upbringing made me hate mistakes. It made me see mistakes as the result of sloppiness, lack of concentration, lack of accurate preparation. It was not imaginable that mistakes can happen despite the best planning: it was always the sign for improving something. I started to fight mistakes with the goal of eliminating them all – I didn’t know it was an impossible feat, but it looked good, because I was always trying to improve!
Sometimes other people would tell me: “Don’t be such a perfectionist! You are allowed to make mistakes!”, but my mind couldn’t understand it properly. There was this translation in my head:
- You should be OK with making mistakes from time to time! , which became:
- You should be OK with being careless from time to time!
This misunderstanding would not happen with these more articulate explanations:
- There are different kind of mistakes and some can be prevented with better preparation, others depend on variables you can’t control (the weather, the audience’s mood, the company’s financial stability…), so your careful preparation could not lead to the best outcome. Afterwards, you can search for the source of the failure: it it’s something you could reasonably prevent, work on that; if not, you comfort yourself with the fact that you did your best.
- Even if you can prevent all mistakes (false, but let’s pretend), you should do like all other people who are not perfectionists and let mistakes happen by paying less attention than needed. Try less hard. Make mistakes you could avoid, on purpose. Let others rejoice, because you too look human.
The second explanation appears now to me in all its monstruosity, judgemental arrogance and dangerous implications. I am finally able to accept mistakes that depend on external circumstances, and I am able to accept the mistakes that come from over-working myself to exhaustion – accept them, and see them as warning signs.
Now I can understand Bob Ross and his happy little accidents 🙂
And by the way, happy artsy activities everyone!