A reminder that everyone makes mistakes

making mistakes, everyone makes mistakes

How do you feel when you make a mistake?

I don’t mean the sort of mistake you make when you’re trying something new – like dropping a stitch when you’re knitting, or having a go at netball and being a bit rubbish at it – I mean making a mistake through sheer stupidity, or because you’ve not done something you really should have known to do.

I’m really hard on myself when I make mistakes.

I hate it. I hate looking stupid, or messing up in any way, and feel just terrible about it. I normally feel worst when it’s in some sort of professional capacity, or when I know I’m going to get told off. Actually, now I come to think about it, I suspect it’s the telling off bit I hate the most.

I can remember vividly an incident at school when I was about 12 or 13 years old. I was the biggest square at school ever, a proper smart arse. If I knew the answer to a question, which I invariably did, I just couldn’t not put my hand up. There was a part of me that felt like I’d be depriving the rest of the class of something if I didn’t share my wisdom. I’ve toned it down a bit now, but to be honest I’m still pretty much the same – when I took Bee to one of her university open days and we did a sample class, I ended up putting my hand up and answering all of the sociology questions. 

How embarrassing. (For Bee, not me. I thought I was ace.)

It must have come as quite a shock to people that it turned out that I was pregnant as I collected my Headmaster’s prize for academic achievement at our GCSE presentation evening. (You see how I couldn’t not mention that??)

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yes, I was about 12 or 13, and I was in a French lesson. Our French teacher, Mr Thorne, asked us to hand in our homework and I felt the blood drain from my head – I didn’t have it. I had thought it was due in on a different date, but no one was going to believe that were they? I don’t think I had ever not done homework before, and I was mortified. I explained that I didn’t have it, and for some reason Mr Thorne decided to make an example of me.

He called me out to the front of the class, and asked me why I didn’t have my homework. I walked up, turned to face the class, and burst into tears of shame. It was not my finest hour.

Obviously regretting his decision to pursue the matter, Mr Thorne sent me back to my seat, looking rather flustered. Needless to say it did not help me develop a reputation as one of the cool kids.

25 years on though, and I still feel much the same when I make a mistake. 

Last night, just before going to bed, when I should have known better, I checked up on a work project and realised I’d made a stupid mistake on something. It’s not the end of the world, but I felt such an idiot. I didn’t sleep well, I had bad dreams, and I woke up in that panicked way, where your arms and legs feel tingly and you have a sense of impending doom. I’m waiting now for a response to my apology and I feel sick. It’s ridiculous. 

I went for a walk before work, because when I’m outside I feel smaller, and I get a better sense of perspective on things, but it feels so silly to be so effected by making a mistake, because nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes, we all do stupid things sometimes, it’s what makes us human.

How do you feel when you make mistakes?



  1. 18 April, 2016 / 11:11 am

    Haha! I’m a lot like you in this respect. So much of this rang true for me. I’m really trying to stop my fear of making a mistake from keeping me back, though. I find that I often won’t attempt something until I’m sure I’ll be good at it so I don’t have to deal with mistakes but that’s no way to really live.

  2. Annabel
    18 April, 2016 / 12:39 pm

    Ha, it must be genetic. I do not take mistakes well AT ALL, My CBT lady, the crazy maverick, was always trying to get me to make DELIBERATE mistakes so I’d get over it-can you imagine? If it helps, I accidentally fed my coeliac friend wheat noodles last week after not reading the label properly and then had a breakdown for several days that I could make such a stupid mistake (she was fine btw, after a small amount of self- induced vomiting….. I’m still not over it). She was more shocked by the fact I’d made that kind of a mistake than the poisoning. Ah well, what can you do,

    p.s. I’m sure the work thing will be ok and they’ll still think you’re awesome because you are.

    • Jo Middleton
      21 April, 2016 / 10:39 am

      Blimey, that ISN’T like you!!! You must have felt awful about that?!

      Also though, why would anyone deliberately make a mistake?! I don’t think I could do that, not about anything serious.

  3. 18 April, 2016 / 12:52 pm

    Argh, I totally feel your pain. I’m the same. I feel sick when I realise I’ve messed up or made a mistake, Hope you get your situation sorted quickly!!

  4. 19 April, 2016 / 1:29 am

    You described the sleepless night, the tingly anxious feeling, the feeling of dread perfectly. Even now, I might have made a blunder at work-not irreconcilable, and it was because I really didn’t know the process, but still, I should have waited to be sure I was heading in the right direction. Life goes on, but it feel like a whole is about to swallow you up at the time.

  5. 19 April, 2016 / 8:31 pm

    I HATE feeling like I’m made a mistake I let it get to me much more than I should. I used to worry about it a lot in my old job as sometimes I’d be organising things for over the weekend when I wasn’t at my work email and I’d spend the whole weekend worrying about any mistakes! I feel a bit better now I’m my own boss though x

    • Jo Middleton
      21 April, 2016 / 10:34 am

      I’d not thought about that Fritha, but I definitely think that a big part of the appeal of working for myself is not having to worry so much about being accountable. I think too that I naturally shy away from long term projects, as with the shorter term stuff you have that comfort of thinking ‘It’s okay, even if I mess up it will be over soon and I never have to work with them again’! It feels a bit silly when I say it like that, but there is definitely an element of that!

  6. 20 April, 2016 / 9:22 am

    I know that blood draining moment it’s the worst – I mainly always hand my homework done but on a few occasions – usually getting the date wrong as well then I would be so embarrassed to say I didn’t have it on me and felt totally the same as you.

    • Jo Middleton
      21 April, 2016 / 10:38 am

      It’s so frustrating isn’t it? Especially at school when there were so many people who clearly didn’t even care about handing it in – I wanted to shout ‘I’m not like them! I care, really I do!’

  7. 20 April, 2016 / 10:21 pm

    oh god! totally feel lsick when i make a mistake… and at 35 i still generally burst into tears when I realise!

    • Jo Middleton
      21 April, 2016 / 10:37 am

      Same Polly! Perhaps we have to comfort ourselves with the fact that it probably just means we are super conscientious!

  8. 21 April, 2016 / 9:56 am

    I hate making mistakes too and beat myself up for it way more than I should. PS your teacher was a cock to do that to you xx

    • Jo Middleton
      21 April, 2016 / 10:36 am

      Yeah, it was a bit cruel wasn’t it?! I’m sure in my head it was a lot worse than the reality mind!

  9. 21 April, 2016 / 10:47 am

    Bloody awful – I hate feeling ‘the fear’

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