Your mistakes do NOT define you

The very definition of resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.”  I would imagine that, as humans, we would naturally strive for that.  We’ve all experienced difficulties.  I’m sure a lot of you can say that you might be experiencing something difficult right now.  But to “recover quickly” now that’s something that sounds a lot easier than it actually is.  How do we define what “quickly” actually means?

Just the other day, I realized that I am approaching the two year mark of living in this apartment.  TWO YEARS.  It seems like just yesterday that I was re-discovering myself and finding out exactly what I was made of.  My point is that time goes by very fast.  I’ve tried to slow it down, but no matter how much wine I drink, it’s not slow enough.  So, instead, I choose to fill my life with moments that are meaningful and memorable.  I want to do crazy things, like ride my bike across Italy, or go wine tasting and buy two cases of wine — just because.  I want to decide on a Thursday morning that after work, I’m gonna grab my dog and go camping for the next two nights.  I’m not gonna look back one day and think about the hours I spent on my couch watching “Game of Thrones” or “House of Cards” on Netflix…. I’m gonna remember those experiences that challenged me and pushed me to new levels.

So, back to resiliency.  It’s the thing that helps us recover when we go down the wrong path.  And we’ve all gone down the wrong path a time or two.  If not, then good for you — i can only imagine what it feels like not to have made mistakes along the way but I must say you are either a) not being honest about your experiences or b) missing out on an important lesson in life.

If the answer is b) then let me explain.  I believe that we learn when we struggle.  I believe that sometimes the greatest lessons come out of our failures.  So, if you’ve never failed, or never made a mistake, then you must be missing out on some important lessons.

I made a huge mistake back in 2012.  I won’t go into the details here, but it was a poor choice and it cost me a lot of money and greatly affected my career in the Air Force.  The positive thing here is that it didn’t end it, it just set me back a little bit. What affected me the most, however, was the way people treated me when it happened.  Some bended over backwards to help me and guide me through those rough waters, but some … were just downright mean.  Like, kick you when you’re down mean…. and the Gemini in me will never forget that.  I know who you are and I will never forget.

But I decided right there, in that moment, that I was not going to let this one experience define who I was and who I was going to be.  I was going to overcome this snapshot in my past and move forward, proving that I am better than a mistake that I made in a thoughtless moment.  And I did.

The important thing here is that I didn’t have to change who I was, or act in a different way to accomplish this.  All I needed to do was to dig in to who I was as a person and continue to be who I knew I was.  I moved forward, doing my best in everything that was thrown my way and, more importantly, I searched for mentorship from those that defined those values that I fought so hard to portray.

And now, five years later, I’m proud of how far I have come.  There are still some haters out there – always will be – but the lesson here is to not let them bring you down.  Haters ‘gonna hate — that’s cool, because that is their story.  My story is to rise above all that, and continue to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be.

Last week I got a phone call from the Master Sergeant that is the POC (point of contact) for the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Induction Ceremony.  She said that there was a special POW/MIA ceremony and that the command chief requested me, by name, to be a part of this ceremony.  The command chief is the highest ranking enlisted member on our base.  He is the right hand man of our base commander.  So, at some meeting, someone described the POW/MIA ceremony and he recommended ME to fill this role.  What an incredible honor to have him think of me for this tremendous opportunity.  And it’s not the first time he’s done it, either.

What I am saying is that mistakes happen.  Failure happens.  It’s part of human nature.  Anyone that claims to be perfect is lying to you.  The failures don’t define us.  How we handle those failures does define us.  So, think about your actions and your response when the worst thing in the world happens to you, whether it is your fault or not.   Will you handle this experience with dignity and respect?  Because what happens AFTER your mistake or failure tells the world more about you rather than the mistake itself.  And also, don’t be a jerk to those that make a mistake or have something bad happen to them.  Help them out.

It’s only a failure if you didn’t learn from it.  Love you all!  -M

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