A Punch to the Gut

I fucked up pretty badly a few weeks back.

The particulars don’t matter. I wouldn’t be able to share them, even if they did. But it was a big one; the kind of mistake that hits you like a freight train. People were hurt and angry — and rightfully so. It felt like I’d been punched in the stomach — the air rushed out of my lungs, leaving me speechless. I’m usually pretty good at picking myself up, dusting myself off, and moving on after I screw up. Not this time.

I spent the next day moping around, feeling sorry for myself. I wanted to run away; to get as far as possible from the person I saw in the mirror. That jerk.

But, on the second day, I remembered: This wasn’t the first time I’d screwed up in my life, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. The fact that I’d made a mistake was important — I’d had a negative impact on other people. But how I responded to it would matter more, in the long run. I decided to focus on the people I’d affected, instead of my ego, and get to work fixing the situation. Time will tell if I’m successful or not.

On the internet, behind screens and keyboards, it’s easy to look at other people and imagine they’re perfect. All you see is their successes — the highlight reel. Fantastic vacation shots on Instagram. Tweets about crushing it on their latest project. And yes, newsletter articles about productivity. We all do it — selectively sharing things that present us in the best light possible.

But we’re all just regular people, trying our best to make today a little bit better than yesterday. And when you put yourself out into the world and try new things, you’re bound to screw up once in a while. Sometimes it will be minor. Other times, you’ll fuck up so bad you won’t even know who you are, for a bit.

In those moments, remember you aren’t alone.