I would do whatever jobs I could get my hands on to make a dollar or two from middle school all the way through graduate school. I was a hustler, but not because I had this innate ability to be one or even wanted to be one, but because I was forced to be (this is a topic I dig deeper with in another post). The one constant source of income for me was babysitting for some local families. It was something I always did even when I had two or three other jobs. At one point I was introduced to a sales job that required me to go to make cold calls and go to people’s homes. Completely out of my comfort zone and absolutely not something I ever though I would be doing.

So I started small by reaching out to friends and their families.

One day I had a set up an appointment with such a person. As I was walking toward the front door, my cell phone rang. I look at the caller ID and it was one of the moms I babysat for. As I answered the call, she asks me where I am in a panicked voice because I was already 20 minutes late. My heart sank, my body froze and I thought the world would end. I told her the truth about where I was and that I forgot. She reamed me out as she should have. I double booked myself and now this single mother had to cancel her plans, which I don’t remember what they were, but it was a really big deal. I didn’t even know how to move forward. Babysitting at the time was my main source of income and I relied on the referrals of all my parents for future jobs. I totally just screwed myself in that moment. I thought all my years of babysitting just flew out the window.

Looking back at that moment, I can still feel the remnants of the absolute terror and humility I felt. I was young, inexperienced with those kinds of mistakes and feelings, and truly did not think I would ever recover.

Except, I had no anchor attached to me.

The mom called me again to babysit later in that week. She told me that I could either just move on and learn, not letting it happen again, or I could move on all together from her family. I sucked it up, went back and eventually became an extension of their family. She was one of the moms who eventually married my husband and I (another story).

What I absorbed into my psyche in that moment was that I did not need to be held back by a mistake. There was no anchor holding me secure to that mistake thereby affecting all future endeavors. I had a choice in the matter. What this mom also taught me was that I always had a choice and once I made that choice I had to be prepared for the consequences, whatever they might be.

Too often we are entrapped by the emotions or feelings that are attached to the mistake we may have made. Those feelings I had attached to me by double booking myself were intense. I didn’t think in that moment I would ever be able to show my face again. Once I was given permission to move on from it, I was in a new world. I was now in a world where I had a choice and could steer my life wherever I wanted to go.

I was like a ship that had no anchor attached to it. Able to freely navigate the world around me; free of the anchor holding me in any one place for too long.

I made mistakes after that and still do. What is different now is how I handle those mistakes. I do not allow those mistakes to define me in a negative way. I choose to learn from them and accept them as a part of the human experience we are all here to have. If I had not made that mistake, I may not have been one of the best babysitters in my town; I do not say this lightly because I was always sought after and always had my schedule booked with amazing families.

Perfection has no home here by the way. Just because I learned how to take those mistakes and learn from them and handle them better now, does not equal perfection. Perfection is a killer, and without mistakes we would fail to learn the lessons they teach us. Without the lessons they teach us, we could not develop into the person we want to become, or have become today.

So just as I was given permission many years ago to move on from my mistake, here is yours if you need it. It’s okay to make mistakes and to learn from them. It’s even more okay to let go of the emotions or feelings attached to those mistakes and move on. That mistake, no matter what it is, does not define who you are as a human being. You get to make the choice and you get to choose how to move forward or stay stuck. No one else decides that for you.

Cut your anchor loose and know that you get to navigate your life going forward however you choose to do so.