Sometimes I panic about the direction of my life. I document this a lot, because I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in it. I’m always scared that I’ve been wrong, that I’ve gone in the opposite direction to where I should have.
That I’ve fucked up so badly that there’s no recourse.
When I was 17, that kind of panic would have led to a night out drinking in a skate park and trying to block everything out of my mind. Well I’m 30 now, so I deal with it a little differently — I binge on Netflix and caramel popcorn.
The thing is, I’ve come to understand more and more that it’s okay for me to get something wrong. It’s okay for me to get everything wrong, as long as I can learn from what I’m doing, and as long as I know I’ve tried to do my best.
I’ve come to understand that every single fuck up is just another detour on a longer road, it’s not the end of the line. I think there’s a lot of crap that we tell ourselves and our kids and other humans, about only getting one chance.
In high school, kids here in Australia are told this all the time. They’re told they have to study their hardest because their life is going to depend on the scores they get in their finals, and they only get one chance to do this.
That’s such a depressing thought, and it’s such a depressing thing to tell a kid who’s coming up in the world, that their whole lives are solely about one moment, or one series of tests, as if they’re a complete failure forever because they got it wrong.
And we do it so often in other areas, we assign this massive value to single events and single decisions, as if there’s no changing paths or directions later, as if what you do in one moment can define who and what you are for the rest of your life.
We’re told (and we tell ourselves) that if we pick the wrong college, the wrong major, the wrong career, the wrong starting job, the wrong partner, the wrong location, the wrong first home, our lives are basically over.
Think about how fucking crazy that is. We make most of these decisions between the ages of 18–30 — meaning there’s at least 50 years left beyond these decisions, if you go by the average life expectancy. 50 years to make other decisions, better decisions, *different* decisions.
When we make a call that’s totally wrong, it’s never the end of the road. We’ve got to start learning that.
Looking back now, I can see so many times when I got it wrong. When I chose the wrong co-founder, when I decided to go to law school, when I dated people just to piss off my Dad, when I pivoted with a startup instead of sticking the course, when I turned down funding even though it would have been the right call, when I suppressed my identity and didn’t transition for 17 years, when I didn’t check my drinking and it turned into a decade of spiralling — I could go on.
But I mean, none of that has prevented me from moving forward with my life. None of that has prevented me from doing what I want to do, doing what I love, working on the things I love. None of that has made me any worse of a person.
It really is okay to get a lot of shit wrong. That’s fine, it’s acceptable, it’s a part of life. It really is okay to make the wrong call as long as you’re self aware enough to recognize it, down the track.
I think all the pressure comes from the fact that life is easier if you don’t fuck up, even once. Well sure, I’m not going to argue with that. In a perfect world, we’d all make the right calls, every time. But the world isn’t perfect. And neither are you.
And that’s okay.