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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SJSU chapter.

Mistakes are unavoidable. Almost every day, we make mistakes or errors in judgment, such as forgetting our textbooks after arriving on campus or missing a deadline entirely (Have you noticed that my thoughts are already on the back-to-school season)? 

Making mistakes is a natural part of growing up and learning as an individual, but these mistakes are not always insignificant. Sometimes we make mistakes that may have caused harm to another person or ourselves.

These are the most challenging to overcome. We frequently try to forget our mistakes or replay the same scenario due to embarrassment or guilt.

But when is it appropriate to acknowledge your wrongdoings and make a conscious effort to fix them? Will you always be defined solely by your mistakes? Can mistakes be beneficial for you?

I recently read an article that made me interested in the topic. A piece for L’Officiel examined the psychology of making mistakes and the advantages of doing so. Anna Gracheva, the author, discussed three specific benefits that stem from our daily flaws; but I’d like to expand on two of them:

1) The Pratfall Effect

Coined by social psychologist Elliot Aronson in 1966, the Pratfall Effect is a phenomenon where people are deemed more likable or attractive after making a simple error.

 Gracheva states, “From the social-psychological point of view, people tend to sympathize with those who make small mistakes and admit them. When we demonstrate our vulnerability and imperfection, the level of empathy and acceptance towards us from other people rises…”. 

Making minor mistakes humanizes and allows us to seem more relatable. Since everyone has made a mistake at some point in our lives, the error demonstrates a similarity factor that makes us more attractive or accepted. 

Making mistakes, on the other hand, does not always benefit you in being liked by others; it sometimes depends on the type of person making such errors. Aronson ran a series of studies that found some people negatively viewed for the mistakes they’ve made.

The research identified two types of students. One was active in extracurriculars and high-achieving in their studies, while the other was an average student with less-appealing acknowledgments.

College-level students listened to tapes of the two types of students and the mistakes they made when answering trivia questions. The high-achieving student correctly answered 92% of the questions while making only a few errors, whereas the average student correctly answered only 30%. 

The test subjects found the higher achieving student more likable when making a mistake than the average student, whose likability worsened when making the same errors. 

2) We grow as people when making mistakes

Gracheva points out that “when we make mistakes, we gain life experience. The personality that we have today was formed because we made mistakes, analyzed them, and learned from them.” 

This particular phrase in the article struck me; we often forget that we are a product of our mistakes. Mistakes, whether on a large or small scale, force us to examine our actions and behaviors and decide whether to hold ourselves accountable or inevitably doom us to repeat the same thing.

You are probably not the same person you were a year or even a month ago; this is because we have all made mistakes over time and have either been made aware of our controversial actions by someone or figured it out for ourselves. 

We might tell ourselves that we would never want to do that again or apologize for causing a problem. Making these mistakes is essential because it allows you to gain valuable experience if a similar situation arises. 

If you make a mistake that harms or offends someone, it is critical to recognize how you hurt that person and to listen to their feelings if they wish to express them. You should apologize as soon as you accept your error and work on ways to improve yourself so that it doesn’t happen again. 

The person isn’t expecting you to be perfect because none of us are; they’re probably just hoping you learn and make an effort to change!

On the other hand, if you make a mistake that causes YOU to harm or you can’t seem to get past it, it may be time to evaluate yourself. 

Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings. If you continue to dwell on your past, even if you know you’ve changed, you’ll miss out on a lot of life. 

It’s natural to feel guilty or regretful from time to time, but no amount of overthinking can change the past.

Mistakes are what make us human, so if you find yourself making a bad decision, know that you’re not alone! 

What are some of the mistakes you’ve made that have shaped you into the person you are today? Let us know what you think @HerCampusSJSU.

Siobhan Robinson is a member of the Her Campus national writing program. She works on the Entertainment and Culture team, covering the most recent pop culture events, trends, and entertainment releases. Previously, she worked as an Entertainment and Culture intern during the Spring 2023 semester, where she was supervised in writing breaking news verticals, live coverage of events such as the Grammys and Met Gala, and interviewing emerging Gen Z talent for Her Campus's "Next Questions" segment. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in Spring 2024 with a B.A. in Communication Studies from San Jose State University and received communication honors for completing a graduate-level course during her undergraduate studies. While in college, she was an active member of the SJSU chapter of Her Campus, serving on the executive board as Editor-In-Chief. In this role, she supervised a team of writers, senior editors, and copy editors, and assessed their articles for the site. Previously, she served as a senior editor, supervising a team of 4-5 writers, and also worked as a campus correspondent for the entire chapter. Additionally, she contributed to the school's publication magazine, Access, and became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. In her free time, Siobhan enjoys scrapbooking, hanging out with friends, going to concerts, and, of course, writing for fun! A die-hard fangirl, she loves sharing everything she knows about her favorite boy bands, even if you don't ask. If you need her, you'll likely find her binge-watching the latest K-drama or catching up on pop-culture social commentaries on YouTube.