“It happens.”

This is something I say often, and it’s mostly relating to mistakes. 

I say it because mistakes are OK. They don’t define you and they aren’t the end of the world.

But they dang sure can feel like it, can’t they?

Mistakes keep me up at night. They make my stomach hurt and bother me down to my very core. It could be the most menial typo in the world or it could be someone very important whose name was spelled incorrectly. Or it could be that one time we wrote “Jazz Fest 2107” in a headline — no, we didn’t travel through time; it was actually 2017 and it’d been a long day. It happens, and now we can laugh about it. But then, it made me sick. 

No matter how big or small the error, I worry myself to death over it.

Mistakes are in our blood as humans, and for me, they’re experience. I always learned in journalism school the first time you spell John Smith’s name incorrectly because it’s actually Jon Smyth is the day you’ll never spell another name wrong again. 

You can’t gain experience or knowledge in something without making mistakes. Theodore Roosevelt said, “The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.”

I’m sure everyone reading this can relate to being mistake-makers. It’s just who we are as humans; we aren’t perfect no matter how hard we try.

I’ve made many mistakes in life much bigger than typos, but it’s important to know mistakes make you who you are. Trying to forget them or erase them is a grave mistake because it takes away history that has developed your character. I guarantee the mistakes you’ve made over the years have made you better at your profession or a better person  — or at the very least prevented you from making the same mistake over and over again.

Mistakes and failures are just part of life, which like Forrest Gump said, is like a box of chocolates. You never know what in the world you’re gonna get — and in my case, you never know how many dang typos you’re gonna make in a day. I’m sure there’s a typo in this column and I’ll see it Friday night just after this page goes to press and I’ll get weak in the knees, sick to my stomach and nauseous. But believe it or not, I’ll wake up Saturday to see another day; a typo won’t kill me, and all your mistakes won’t kill you either. The Beatles brilliantly sang, “Lalalala, life goes on,” and that it does. 

We can all make our fair share of mistakes but what we can’t do is quit. If we’re too afraid to live because of the mistakes we may make, are we really living?

Don’t let the things you can’t change bring you down. Life is far too short to spend your precious time worrying about what’s done. It’s a new year and it’s time to focus on the future, not dwell on the past and all the mistakes you’ve made. Never let a mistake define you but always know each mistake you make is shaping your character and is an opportunity for you to get better.

Happy 2020 — oops, typed 2002 there for a second and almost time traveled again but hey, at least I caught it — let’s make some mistakes and learn from them.

Santana Wood is managing editor of Tallapoosa Publishers’ newspapers. She can be reached at santana.wood@alexcityoutlook.com