Failing to Learn from Others’ Mistakes
As the famous proverb goes, “Experience is the best teacher.” While that makes sense, I prefer to say, “Other people’s experiences are the best teachers.” Why go through the pain of learning from my own mistakes when I could learn from yours? Unfortunately, I didn’t heed my own advice recently and wound up learning the hard way.
One of my favorite quotes is from George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Similarly, my nurse from high school advised me, “Plan for the worst. Hope for the best. And handle the situation as it arises.” How I wish I had learned from their experiences. It is important to use mistakes as opportunities to grow and to ensure that we don’t fall into the same traps again. Life seems to be testing me in this exact way right now.
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is to make sure I put my hope in the right things. For over a year, 100 percent of my hope was in my best friend moving to my city, becoming my caregiver, and getting a place with me. Gaining independence and getting my own place are enormous desires of mine, so I eagerly latched onto this plan.
Unfortunately, it fell through, and I was crushed. It quickly became apparent that I had forgotten to apply the wise advice that I had been entrusted with and thereby handled the situation entirely incorrectly. If you put your hope in people or material things, there is a chance you will be let down. Even best friends can let you down from time to time.
I am faced with an almost identical situation now. My other best friend wants us to get a place together once his year-long lease expires. I learned from my past experience, so I’m equipped to handle this properly this time. If it comes to fruition, fantastic. If not, that’s fine too. I don’t need it to work to be content.
The toughest part for me this time is that I want to put some hope in it because, well, I could use some. I would love to have something so exciting to look forward to. There needs to be some balance, but that can be difficult to find. It’s also important to remember that a ton can change in a year’s time. My friend could move to Africa for all I know. I also know that tomorrow isn’t promised, let alone next year. I just need to do my part one day at a time.
So, while it would have far been easier just to heed Santayana’s and my nurse’s observations rather than stumble on my own, I’m now forewarned and armed for this new trap. But while there are similarities, it’s not exactly the same because, this time, I’m different. I see it coming. Now it’s time to apply a response to Santayana, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
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