For some reason I have been ruminating lately on mistakes made. Bad writing from my past that I came across. Something insensitive said five years ago. Opportunities not taken out of fear. Toxic relationships held too long. Things left unsaid.

It can be tempting to beat ourselves up over our mistakes. How much better would our lives be without them? How much better would the lives of others be if we had never hurt them?

In all this ruminating, though, I realized something. We only realize that we have made mistakes because we have grown past them. If we were the same person as we were when we made the mistake, then we wouldn’t have realized it was a mistake in the first place. I think realizing our mistakes is a kind of emotional rebirth, a saying of, “The person I was then is not the person I am now.”

I have in this way been trying to forgive my younger self, much in the way that a parent would forgive a child. And the foundation of the reason a parent forgives a child is because of love. We can forgive our younger selves because we understand that they acted in ignorance but we love them anyway and wish them the best. And then we can sit back and reflect on all that we have learned since we were that younger self and feel pride in our growth.

For more on mistakes, please check out one of my very favorite videos: On Being Wrong.