Go Forth and Err

“It’s something you need to do a million times: make mistakes, learn from them, and then go out and make more mistakes.”



A colleague from another journalism department* said this to me a few days ago and it just landed. She was talking about reporting and about how students need a plethora of opportunities to jump in and just do it in a wide range of settings.


But it’s a concept that applies to so much more.


I’m a borderline perfectionist. While it’s true that I will drop everything at the first whiff of adventure, hastily stuffing the bare essentials –camera, notebooks, pens, snacks—in the nearest bag on my way out the door…there’s other areas where I’m nowhere near as easygoing. There’s this sourceless pressure to score an invisible 100%, 100% of the time.


I replay conversations on a loop, homing in on the awkward segments: the attempted humor that fell flat, the reference I didn’t catch, the unfortunate word choice I’d like to delete. Ditto for when I’m writing. There’s a solid chance I won’t post this missive for another week due to excessive tinkering.


There’s a lot of risk and trail blazing involved in the kinds of things I’ve been advocating for lately in my writing: allyship, advocacy and building community. It’s hazy work, with countless opportunities to make mistakes. Anything that calls on us to interact with people we don’t know well can be scary.**


And yet…there’s so much grace in the just-go out-there-and-make-mistakes maxim. Maybe life isn’t about nailing it on the first try. Maybe we become good at things because of our failures. Perhaps we can’t excel in terrain we haven’t tripped through countless times.



And yet…there’s so much grace in the just-go out-there-and-make-mistakes maxim. Maybe life isn’t about nailing it on the first try. Maybe we become good at things because of our failures. Perhaps we can’t excel in terrain we haven’t tripped through countless times.

What if we shifted the stories we tell ourselves? What if “I’m not good at making friends”; “I want to say something...but I might not get it right”; “Someone else can do it better” became “I’m going to try, and see what I learn”?


Maybe it’s all about embracing that we’re very human beings being very human. And maybe that’s enough.


Thank you, friends for reading and for being on this exciting journey*** with me.



*Recent news: I am helping my university build a new journalism minor from literal scratch. It’s not actually rolled into my job (#adjunctlife, don’tcha know…) but I am doing it because stories matter and getting them right—even more so.

** Have you ever listened to Malcom Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers? It’s an audio book, designed to be listened to and it’s all about our interactions with, as the subtitle suggests, “What We Should know about the People We Don’t Know.” I teach it as part of my freshman comp and it is worth a listen!

***Speaking of hard and scary: launching a book is off the charts in that arena. I am so thankful to have you! Please feel free to share this newsletter and invite more friends into our very human community.