Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Messiness, Mistakes, and Grace

I'm a teacher. I encourage mistakes. I tell my students, "In this classroom, mistakes is when the learning takes place." I encourage the messiness of learning and writing. We celebrate it. 

So here's my question...why am I so hard on myself when I make a mistake? I made a mistake tonight. It's a small one. Nothing huge. I forgot to do something. I'll have time to get it done. No crisis. No harm done. Yet, I can't let it go. 

My mind is gnawing on it like a dog gnaws on a bone. I keep wondering how I forgot and chastising myself for being so careless. My self-talk right now is not pretty, yet I can't make it quiet down.

Writing helps...a bit. As I write this I remind myself to look at this through another lens. What would I say to a friend if they made this mistake? I'd remark that it's no big deal. I'd tell them that everyone makes mistakes and it's fine. Finally, I'd remind them to be kind to themselves. Show themself grace. GRACE. 

For some reason, it seems that grace is easier to show to others and is not easy to grant to ourselves. What will I learn from this? I will remember that I make mistakes like everyone and I will work to remember that my mistakes don't define me, my response to the mistakes do. I will celebrate the messy and remember to have fun!

March is the Slice of Life Challenge.
I'll be sharing a post each day in the month of March.
Please join me at Two Writing Teachers to read more slices!


  1. I'm glad you were able to write it out and hopefully now...let it go! What you said is exactly right. I'm sure your intentions were good and I'm sure you will fix whatever needs to get done. We have to be kinder to ourselves, like we would be to a student who made a mistake. I tell my class "mistakes make your brain grow!" The image of your mind gnawing on this like a dog gnaws on a bone was a great one!

  2. Same.
    Be kind to yourself, as Kathleen notes, and find the space to keep moving forward.
    I wrote recently about mistakes I have made in the classroom for Middleweb and it was rather cathartic.

  3. I wish to answer your question about why are we harder on ourselves than we are with the students. This is because we were brought up differently, much more judgement and aiming for the right and proper always. Learning self-compassion was never ever mentioned, nor growth mindset. Rewiring brain takes time. I am glad that writing helps you.

  4. If the mistake is “no big deal,” why be hard on yourself? Mistakes have degrees of seriousness, and I can’t imagine beating myself up for the tiny ones. The ones that are really more about choice but that get labeled “mistake” are something else. I think the terms get confused often.

  5. I do this all the time. And then I wonder why I can't extend the same grace to myself that I try to give to everyone else in my life.

  6. I agree with Terje, it's in the DNA of our childhoods. Still. We can unlearn and relearn and practice self care. Be kind and gentle with yourself. You deserve it. You are a wonderful teacher and person and friend.

  7. That feel of mistake is just awful, isn't it? Writing it out has to be cathartic though. It's important to forgive yourself with the same tenderness you sprinkle on your kiddos. But I hear you, it's hard. Your high standards are awesome. But giving yourself grace, also takes practice.

  8. I'm laughing hysterically right now - the photo at the end - LOVE! "My self-talk right now is not pretty, yet I can't make it quiet down"! I hope writing this slice helped shift the "not pretty self talk" to "pretty self talk" Sometimes a good "Oh well, let's move on" works! Thanks for sharing - because, we all make mistakes!

  9. I've been hard on myself many times, but the "pitty party" really doesn't help, so I hope you can extend some grace to yourself and know you make the world a better place every day!

  10. My favorite line "my mistakes don't define me, my response to my mistakes do." I need to remember this. I, too, celebrate mistakes as learning in my classroom and with my daughter, but when it come to myself, I am hard on myself. I hope writing about it helped you to let it go! I've learned that writing really does help!

  11. Michelle,
    Preach! This is so true. I find myself telling others to give themselves a break, but I struggle to do that myself. I tell others to put themselves first, but I struggle to do that. Sometimes I just laugh a I listen to myself. I think we must struggle with the "practice what you preach" idea. Ha!

    I enjoyed your post. First of all, I get it. Secondly, the change in sentence length really gives your post a nice rhythm. As a reader, I found myself slowing down and speeding up in all the right places.


  12. I'm glad you could see the double standard you keep. May you find it easier to grant yourself grace as you continue your journey.


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