Fear is one of those powerful things that seems to affect every part of your life and the fight against feeling fear seems like a near endless battle. To be specific, the fear of being wrong seems to have a grip on nearly everyone.
Since the very start of our education we are taught that being wrong is a punishable offense. Getting things wrong on a test means a lower score. Getting things wrong in life means you’ll fall short of goals or get detention. With these consequences it is no surprise that we build a sense of fear against getting things wrong or being wrong. Though sometimes it manifests only as being unwilling to raise your hand in class, sometimes it can create something else entirely. Sometimes it can create a hatred towards those who make mistakes. It can make mistakes seem like an evil far greater than they are.
Why do I mention this when there are so many more tangible offenses being conducted within society? It seems that in so many ways our fear of being wrong and the way we treat those who make mistakes are very present in many issues that exist today. ‘Cancel culture’ is an example of this. People make mistakes but as we have seen before those in the limelight are often much more severely punished for their mistakes. Though sometimes it is warranted and such reactions are often treated as a consequence of the job and being installed as a role model in society, ‘cancel’ culture exacerbates the fear people hold against making mistakes. It turns mistakes into something to be avoided at all costs rather than things that occur and one must learn from. Indeed, ‘cancel’ culture reduces the motivation for changing and growing as when there is no chance for redemption there is less motivation to truly take the time to assess one’s mistakes and discern what one can do remedy their mistakes.
‘Cancel culture’ highlights how making mistakes is treated within our culture: an evil rather than a growing experience. This thinking also leaks into how we observe our own mistakes as a society. Fearing mistakes becomes a habit and any mistakes made are never addressed as addressing them would cause one to have to admit that a mistake has been made. But it is only once they are addressed can we ever move forward and grow into someone better. For so much of my life I feared making mistakes. I let each one fester and this commonly led to anxiety regarding whatever task I had failed at. I treated each mistake as I was taught to treat them, as failures. I stayed away from topics in which I did not know every detail for fear of being incorrect in any of my statements. But in college I quickly learned that the only thing that habit led to was more fear and so many things left unlearned.
Being wrong is so scary. Making mistakes can sometimes feel like the end of the world. But all of us should endeavor to create a world in which we acknowledge and address our mistakes. Where we take the time to understand why they are made and concurrently understand that it is okay to make them. I have often learned the most after I have been wrong. And though it is scary, I am ready to be wrong a hundred more times as only through that will I learn things that I may never have imagined. Only through that will I grow.