how we learn to make mistakes

Photo on 2013-05-29 at 19.46

I gave a presentation today at work, on culture, or at least on some elements of cultural awareness. I am not entirely sure how the presentation was from the perspective of my colleagues, but for me, as a presenter deeply aware of how shallow my presentation was going to be, it was an illuminating experience.

Not so much illuminating because I learned something new or shared something profound, but because it gave me pause to think about the way that we do things wrong, not just in the sense that we behave ‘wrongly’ in terms of our intercultural engagement, but in the more broad sense of making a mistake. A giant motherfucking fuck up and how the fuck fuck we deal with that.

Inasmuch as this blog is both repository and commentary on my own writing as well as a platform on which I write my desire to communicate with whoever may be listening, it is often a vast collection of mistakes.

I do not believe that as a young person I was encouraged to make mistakes, instead I’m fairly certain that I learned from a young age that being obedient, learning to meet people’s expectations, and finding meaning in the praise of others was the ‘right’ way to be. The past few weeks I have made several mistakes, none of them I hope are of the irretrievable kind, but I have revisited some key thoughts – about how afraid I can be to make mistakes and as a result how little I learn sometimes.  It has been rather stressful  and I am not sure that, at all times, I have behaved as I might have hoped.  Sometimes I have well and truly dropped the bundle.

From  this I remember that people are very kind and very understanding and surprisingly tolerant – thank you to everyone who has put up with me.

I will try not to make a habit of it, but I also remember how fun it can be to make mistakes.  Who knew that there was such beauty in the mess?

p.s.  I include this picture so that you can now adequately visualise  what I look like when I am writing because I have RSI and the whole thing is being done by a speech recognition program. This is obviously a massive technological success, although you feel a right idiot talking to a computer.

By Eleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer, cyclist, writer, gal about town, feminist, freewheeler, and friend.


  1. Loved reading this post Eleanor. I am a big believer in the learning that comes from emotional discomfort… we all feel it, just sometimes we don’t hear its message. And mistakes…they are never a part of us, they show us where we can develop further.

  2. Thank you Graham for the thoughtful (and fast) comment, I really agree, we need to learn from that discomfort is challenging as it feels at the time…

  3. It’s totally hard to let go and make mistakes. It’s like we’re enculturated to be perfect machines. Being gentle on yourself i think is a process of discovery in itself. It really is. It’s harder if you’re in really fucked circumstances tho. You’re probably developing a new part of your brain with the voice recognition software thing :)

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