The last article I wrote was about a month ago about the Florida school shooting. I was incredibly proud of that article. It was something I was—and still am—very passionate about. I was proud of myself for using my voice to bring awareness to these issues surrounding America today, and I was proud of the finished product. It was my most fond work to that date.
After the article was published, it was brought to my attention that I had gotten a statistic wrong. There were not seventeen school shootings at that time; some of those numbers included incidents in which guns were just inside of a school or accidentally went off, and some instances weren’t on school grounds.
All of a sudden, the article I was once so proud of made me sick to my stomach to even think about. One small mistake caused me to disregard all of the work and passion I put into the rest of the article. I couldn’t believe I had allowed myself to write something that was so prevalent and sacred to be tarnished by misrepresented facts.
No matter how many times my friends reassured me that it was just one mistake, or that many other news sources had gotten these facts wrong, too, I couldn’t forgive myself for that mistake.
I’ve always put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to excel and be perfect at everything I do. When my GPA dropped to a 3.98 last semester, I was devastated. I do the same with my writing. I want to write for a living, so I chalked that one mistake up to mean I would never be a credible writer in the real world. Because of that one mistake from faulty news sources, I thought I was a bad writer.
I lost my motivation to write. I didn’t think I was worthy of writing anymore. I didn’t trust myself to not make the same mistake as I did in that article, so my solution was to give up. Since I had made a mistake and was no longer perfect, my body and mind shut down completely.
However, I had to write an article for my magazine writing class this semester. I had to attend a mandatory conference with my professor to read over my article. My self-esteem was low, and I was expecting her to say my entire article was awful, that I would have to redo the entire thing.
But she did just the opposite.
She commended me on my writing. She said both the content and my style of writing were spot-on. (Though I tend to “over-write”, as she put it. Which I’ve been told before.)
That was the push I needed to write again. I needed someone other than my friends or my boyfriend or my parents to tell me I was a good writer; they’re kind of obligated to say that. I needed that unbiased, professional voice to tell me I was still good enough; that she believed in me when I no longer believed in myself.
Now it’s my job to internalize that voice and repeat it to myself.
I am bigger than my mistakes.