According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary website, a mistake is 1) a wrong judgement or misunderstanding; 2) a wrong action or statement proceeding faulty judgement, inadequate knowledge, or inattention. In my own words, a mistake is a wrong thing someone does or says, but wasn’t intending to. For example, you writing too quickly and you accidentally misspell something because of it and you have to erase. Or grabbing something out the fridge and it slips out of your hands and breaks. You didn’t throw it on the floor on purpose. It just slipped out of your hand.
Many people call things “mistakes” that aren’t mistakes. They’re CHOICES. But because they regret it later, they want to soften what they did, so instead of admitting they made a poor choice, they’ll say they “made a mistake”.
“I made a mistake and cheated on my spouse.”
“I made a mistake and said something I shouldn’t have said out of anger.”
“I made a mistake and wore blackface and called someone a racial slur.”
“I made a mistake and raped someone.”
“I made a mistake and abused someone.”
“I made a mistake and bullied someone.”
So many people say things like this and claim they are mistakes. These aren’t mistakes because all people know right from wrong. We were taught since we were babies right from wrong. It’s up to us to CHOOSE right or wrong. A lot of people CHOOSE to do WRONG things, then don’t want to own up to their choice.
You knew you were in a relationship/married when you slept with someone that wasn’t your partner. It’s not like you didn’t know you were already with someone. You knew doing that was wrong, which is why you did it behind your partner’s back and lied about it. You knew sleeping with someone that wasn’t your partner would hurt them…but you did it anyway. Now that you got caught and you see the hurt on your partner’s face, you want to say it was “a mistake”. No. You made A CHOICE!
Everyone knows wearing blackface is racist. Everyone knows what racial slurs are. You went online and did it anyway. And now that you’re getting dragged for it (like you should), you want to claim you “made a mistake”. No. You made A CHOICE!
When you picked on that kid in school for whatever reason, you knew exactly what you were doing. You knew the kid would be and was hurt by it. But you did it anyway. And kept doing it. You didn’t “make a mistake” and become a bully. You made A CHOICE!
When you had sex without a condom or birth control, you knew beforehand that unprotected sex leads to pregnancy. You don’t sleep around unprotected, then say “I made a mistake and now I’m pregnant” or “I made a mistake and got somebody pregnant”. You made A CHOICE!
Instead of saying, “We’re all human and we all make mistakes”, I want us to start saying, “We’re all human and we all make CHOICES”. We have to start being more honest with ourselves and admitting that we CHOOSE to do bad things sometimes.
A lot of people like using “free will” as excuse to absolve themselves from accountability for bad choices as well. Yes we have free will to choose what we want to do, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences to what we do or that what we do won’t hurt someone else.
I believe that if more of us admitted to making bad choices instead of calling our bad choices “mistakes”, we will think twice about doing certain things. If we keep calling our bad choices “mistakes”, a lot of us won’t try to do better because in our heads, we’re not doing anything wrong. We’re just “making mistakes”.