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By Emily Hawkins

Humility. It seemed like the theme of my life. Parenting efforts resulting in little progress. Painfully embarrassing experiences as I fumbled my way through something new, in front of people I respect and admire. Why is it that I seemed to be failing at things I valued so much? The question tugged at my pride.

I confided my feelings to a trusted person and she said something profound. “Maybe wrong is the right way to learn.” 

I had never thought of it that way. My life seemed to be a windy path of avoiding “wrongs” and steering my way towards “right.” But who is to say what is right and wrong anyway? Aren’t the places we have been and the things we have done, even if painful, the best opportunities for discovery and growth?

When I look back on my path, I see that my firm grip on the steering wheel left me flustered and confused. Shouldn’t I be getting this right more often? Why am I making so many mistakes? I was so busy avoiding what I perceived as missteps, that I couldn’t allow myself to dwell in those uncomfortable places, those moments of learning. Of potential transformation. 

A public figure I admire recently shared a picture with the word “student” on her hand. She explained that on days when everything feels hard, she writes this word to remind herself that she is a perpetual student of life. That these learning experiences are for a purpose, and we are not to run from them, but rather to lean in. We are meant to get curious enough to gain something – to find enough meaning to keep going. 

Who am I, and who are we, if not perpetual students? Without traversing the things that scare us, without being aware when we find ourselves in places we wouldn’t like to be, we would miss it. We would miss the opportunities to gain invaluable information that invites us to put the pieces together in a different way. Perhaps, “wrong” is the right way to learn after all.