You Will Screw Up Over And Over Again. (And That’s Okay.)

“I would not change a thing because if I did, I wouldn’t be me and I’m really glad to be me. There are a hundred things I regret; there are 75 things I could do over, but I wouldn’t because that would mess up what I ended up with.” — Seth Godin

 
Endings tend to bring about this sense of nostalgia in me. Four years ago this month, I was finishing up my stint covering the Olympics from Beijing. Two years ago this month, I was midway through my summer in Biloxi.

I look back now on these versions of me — four years ago, two years ago — and I laugh.

Who was I? What the hell was I doing?

And I wonder, as Stry.us’s work in Springfield comes to a close this month: Will I look back two years from now on Springfield and wonder the same thing?

I’m guessing I will.

Time isn’t good for much, but it’s wonderful for giving you perspective. It’s hard to know in the moment what’s happened. With time, truth reveals itself.

I was talking to a former boss of mine yesterday, and we were laughing about all the stuff I screwed up at my old job. I was just out of college, and I was pretty raw. She watched as I messed things up over and over again. I confessed over the phone that looking back, I’m not really sure how she put up with me.

I was hugely ambitious, and maybe even a tiny bit talented, but I was also largely unaware of what was really going on in the office. This wasn’t the “no rules” world of start-ups. This was a newsroom, where actions have consequences.

I’m lucky to have had bosses who saw me as talented — and not as pure trouble. If you’re as lucky as I am, you’ll also work with people who believe in you and give you chances to try and try again.

Do I wish I could go back and keep myself from all that trouble? Certainly.

But I can’t. I can’t stop what’s already been done.

Besides, all of those mistakes, all of those screw-ups — they led me to here.

What’s done is done. But there are things I’ve learned you can do. You can take ownership of your mistakes. You can hold yourself responsible for what’s been done. You can take stock of what’s happened — and you can show others how you’ve grown.

Most of all, you can ask for help. For forgiveness. For an opportunity to prove yourself again.

This is a life of many, many little opportunities. You work hard for them. You will screw many of them up anyway. I certainly have.

But one or two will come along, and you’ll find the courage to make something awesome with them. You’ll find a way to define your greatness and then make it so.

So let the past be the past. Don’t hide from it, don’t run from it. And don’t let it stop you from what’s next.

Remember: We learn from the past. We make things happen in the present.

Onward we go.

That lovely photo of the road ahead comes via @stienz.