I’ve made many mistakes in my life. I’ve always lived each day as if I have more ahead. I’ve been faced with what seems like more death than my mind can handle lately. These range from a 4-1/2-year-old, parents of friends, grandparents of friends, to friends of my own. Each is sad in its own way and there are really no words to make me feel better.
Tomorrow Isn’t Promised
One thing that’s for sure, is that tomorrow isn’t promised. That’s one thing that everyone KNOWS, but I don’t think we stop to think about how real it is. The younger you are, the less you think about it, but the older I get, the more I’m faced with the fact that today may be my last. I wrote an entire blog about Time Anxiety and although the older I get, I experience this, that’s not what I’m talking about. Along with feeling like I don’t have enough time to do what I want to do, I feel like I am running out of time to fix the mistakes I’ve made.
You’ve heard that phrase “Nothing in life is sure, but death and taxes”, but that’s only 1/2 true. People are behind and don’t pay their taxes all the time . . . but nobody escapes death. But I PROMISE YOU, tomorrow isn’t promised. Nothing is for sure.
There’s no doubt that I’ve made thousands of mistakes in my life. These range from picking the wrong menu item off the McDonald’s Extra Value Meal to failing as a father, and everything in between. I think you’ll kill yourself (mentally, emotionally, & physically) if you obsess over every mistake you make. The fact of the matter is that these mistakes are in the past, and ultimately part of who you are today. I don’t ever REGRET any mistake I made because I wouldn’t be who I am now with out them. They all lead to me. And I like me.
But I will be the first to point out that if I’m not learning from these mistakes, then I’m not growing as a person. I’m treading water, and that’s the biggest life mistake. Don’t ever tread water. Keep swimming upstream. Even if you’re paddling against the river . . . keep swimming. Keep moving. Keep being better today than you were yesterday.
This header is so close to the previous one, but oh so different. Mistakes happen all the time. But taking about MY mistakes . . . well, that’s a difficult thing to do. But I’m going to do it here because I want to talk about and set an example that mistakes are okay to make. It’s how you grow from them that makes a difference. My mistakes will be different from yours, but perhaps they’re close enough for you to not make them too. Or maybe they’re identical and we can grow together. Either way, here are a few of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my life, and what I’ve learned from them.
I think it’s important to point out that the mistakes I’m going to go through aren’t specific situations. They’re general lessons I HAVE to learn from.
Mistake #1 – Staying Single For Kailyn
For the longest time after my divorce, I adopted the thinking that “I had my chance to get married, fall in love, and be in a meaningful relationship”. I used this mantra to keep myself from getting hurt in a relationship again. To learn about my insecurities with dating, just take a stroll back to one of my earlier blogs and you’ll see where this comes from.
I can’t tell you how many times this phrase went through my mind over the past 11 years. I’d guess in the 10,000’s. It still does. I decided I was going to be a “good dad” and focus ALL of my attention on Kailyn. And I did. I think I’m a GREAT dad, and a lot of that is because I focused all my attention on her. I was PTA President, the class/program’s biggest donor, at every game/concert, and at the end of every phone call where she was upset. As I mentioned, I’ll NEVER regret this decision becuase it’s made me her closest confident. When she’s upset, she calls me. I’m her first call. And I LOVE that. But I think in some ways I did her a disservice. Here’s why . . .
What I Learned About My Staying Single Mistake
To begin with, I’ll state the obvious. I passed on opportunities to be in a relationship because I was scared. There’s no doubt that fear and self-preservation played a HUGE role in my choosing to be single. You can’t get hurt in a relationship if you’re not in a relationship.
But on a much deeper level, I did Kailyn a disservice but not showing her what it was like to see her father in a loving relationship. She’s seen a relationship with her Mom and stepfather (whether or not it’s a loving one is not for me to say since I don’t see much of their relationship), but she’s never known her father to be in one. I have a lot to give to someone. Modeling that behavior for Kailyn is a missed opportunity. I had the chance to show her how a man should treat someone he loves in a relationship.
In a lot of ways, I did this by my actions towards Kailyn, but modeling it in my own relationship is much different than my relationship with Kailyn. Kailyn told me, “I’ll never settle. I’ll never date anyone who doesn’t treat me as good as you treat me, daddy.” Let’s just call that a little win, but I could have done so much more by modeling this behavior, and at the same time, allowed myself happiness. I kept that from myself and her, all out of fear.
How I Grew Out Of My Mistake
There’s this girl (who will eventually end up reading this I’m sure) and she knows how much I love her. I’ll be forever thankful that she came into my life. I’ve known her for a LONG time. But she taught me that it was worth trying. Even if it didn’t work out. Failing hurts, but the upside is worth any hurt or pain that I end up feeling. My life’s story, and our story too, is never over till it’s over so who knows what the future holds for us, but she’s my favorite person and she’s given me the courage to get out there and try. Trying is EVERYTHING. I gave up before. I used it as a crutch and I won’t make that mistake again. Ever. I can’t say thank you enough to her. She’s been everything to me, and will be forever.
Mistake #2 – Learning To Let Go
Letting go of things is hard for me. I tend to hold on and always feel like I have the power to “will” it to be the way I want it to be. Someone once said that if I want something, I need to manifest it. I half believe that, but on the other hand, there are just things that aren’t meant to be.
I can apply this across the board in my life. It ranges from my friendships to my love life, to my professional life. Being able to identify what I need to walk away from is the first step in my journey, and actually DOING it is the second.
What I Learned About My Inability To Let Go
I learned that you can only control one person. Me. And that one person isn’t that easy to control. A lot of time I see my friends trying to “control” their feelings and emotions, and sometimes they’re just uncontrollable. That’s just a fact.
But my thoughts, feelings, and actions are truly the only thing I can control. Letting go feels like losing to me. As an entrepreneur and type-a personality, losing is the ultimate pain. Both mental and physical. But if you can adjust your thinking to realize it’s not “losing”, but “cutting your losses”, it’s much easier to cope. I want to be clear that “losses” don’t mean that what I was doing or what you’re doing is a losing cause. But trying to fit a “square peg in a round hole” isn’t healthy. That doesn’t mean your peg will always be square, or that the hole will always be round (ignore the sexual undertones here, LOL). People change. Situations Change. Life Changes. What it does mean is that I need to let go of what’s not resonating back to me. Sometimes it’s all about timing.
How I Grew Out Of My Mistake
To be honest, this one is still a hard one for me. I just keep reassuring myself that “letting go” doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. It just means that sometimes I just need to let situations pass, change, and evolve. I need to trust in my process. The process that says, “Just be the best Ben there is, and hope that what I want/need evolves to want to be a part of that Ben”. This is much harder to do in reality than it is to write. If you feel worthy, then don’t accept anyone in your life who doesn’t treat you as such. I promise you, you are.
When it comes to work, I am constantly evaluating my work ethic, priorities, and leadership. Constantly adjust my behavior to let go of what I can’t control and grab ahold of what I can. As a parent, this happens the same way, but on a MUCH more important scale. In my friendships, I am constantly evaluating the value my friends bring to the table, and what I bring to theirs. And lastly, in my love life . . . well that’s complicated. Someone posted this meme that I wanted to share here:
I think this meme encapsulates how I feel about all aspects of my life now. Go to where you can be the best you. Surround yourself with people who make you the best you. Love those who love you back. Encapsulate yourself with those to build you up and support the best version of you.
Oh yeah . . . and make sure you do the same for your friends, family, and loved ones.
Mistake #3 – Forgetting My Past
I’ll be the first one to say, “Don’t ever forget your past, it’s part of who you are”. I couldn’t stand by this statement more today than any other time I’ve said it. Sometimes I try and forget my past because parts of it are too painful to remember. There have been people, situations, loved ones, and even family who have hurt me so badly, I’ve blocked them out of my mind. But that’s not healthy. It’s taken me a long time to come to this conclusion.
What I’ve Learned About Forgetting My Past
I’ve been going through old photos from my past and organizing them. Those who know me well know how much I value my photos as memories of my past. I came across a bunch of photos from my ex and Me when we first started dating. A couple of them stopped me dead in my tracks. I just stopped and stared at them.
For a moment, I tried to figure out why I was getting so emotional looking at them. Then as I was falling asleep one night, I realized what it was. There was actually a time in history when I was deeply in love with this girl. And looking at the photos she was too. This was so foreign because we’ve spent the better part of 11 years despising each other. There’s no doubt that the girl and boy in these photos are two completely different people, but that was us. Then it hit me.
How I’ve Grown Out Of My Mistake
Kailyn never met or knew either of these two people. She never knew a time where her mother and father LOVED each other. She’s just known us to dislike each other more than anyone else she’s known. I decided to change this. I told her I’d like to share a few photos with her to let her know who her mom and dad were when we were together. She’s heard all of the things that he mom hates about me (from her mom, but this is another topic for another blog), but rarely hears of the love that she was born into the world to.
In a lot of ways, I haven’t 100% grown. I can’t type this with total truth and honestly and say that I have. But I’m trying every day. This is arguably the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted to do in my life. But I’m trying every day.
One of my greatest achievements in the way of personal growth is this. Being able to have matured enough to share these stories and photos with her. I’m proud that I’ve gotten it to this point. Only took me 11 years. Hahahaha
Leave It On The Table
This is one phrase I use all the time. I now live my life as if there is no tomorrow. If I’m gone tomorrow I don’t ever want those I love and care about to wonder how I feel about them. I love unapologetically, I care with all my heart, and I act like a fool.
My friend Gina and I had dinner and I said, “Lately, I feel like a fool. I feel like I’m just out there embarrassing myself and putting myself out there”. What she said next rocked my world. She said, “How can you love or care about someone/something if you’re not willing to be a fool?”
So a fool I am (and will continue to be). I’ll be a fool for those I care about so there’s no doubt how much I care about them. Let’s all be fools, shall we?
So this blog was longer than my usual ones, but I have/had a lot to say. My wish is that you are “leaving it all on the table” and acting as a fool for those who are deserving of you. And for those who aren’t . . . walk away. Now.
As always, thank you for your time in reading my thoughts. I’d love to hear from you and hope these words find you safe, happy and healthy.