Oops, I messed up.

I do quite a bit of traveling for both work and pleasure. As many of you know, traveling requires quite a bit of organization, which shouldn’t be a problem for someone like me…usually.
It was my third trip to the airport in a month. It felt like I was just back and caught up from the last trip when I was off on the next one. (Yes, I know – first world problems). My husband and I arrive 2 hours before our flight to the US, as usual. I walk up to the ticket counter and give the agent our e-tickets and passports. She looks at my passport, then looks at me, then looks at the computer screen. She wrinkles her nose, squints her eyes and rubs her right temple. Her expression is one of utter confusion. This can’t be good. She looks back at me and says “Who’s Hellen?” “I’m Hellen” I smile as I try to sneak a look at her computer screen. “Well, then who’s Sarah?” she asks. And then it dawns on me – I’ve made a terrible mistake. Sarah is my daughter and I brought her passport to the airport instead of mine.
There’s no time to think. We race outside the airport doors lugging our baggage behind us and flag the first cab we see. We explain the situation and beg him to get us home and back in time for our flight. He nods and calmly and says he’ll do his best. Why do I get the feeling he’s encounter this situation before?
Our driver floors it as we hit the highway on the way to our house, which is usually 30 minutes away. We need to be back at the airport in exactly one hour if we hope to catch our flight. Even 5 minutes after that, they won’t let us board the plane. 30 minutes there. 30 minutes back. And not a minute to spare. I swear I held my breath the whole way and I didn’t dare look at the speedometer. My husband and I barely said a word. It was a very quiet ride. And it cost us $150 (plus a few years off our lives).
Thankfully we made it. It was nothing short of a miracle.
Once we passed security and immigration, we had some time to reflect. My husband says he was very proud of himself because he didn’t lose it when he found out what I had done. (The woman at the ticket counter was also pretty impressed and said her husband would have been screaming like a mad-man; that made him feel pretty good). I guess he knew I would be hard enough on myself – he didn’t need to lay into me too.
Sometimes we beat ourselves up for making a mistake, and we carry it around and continue to blame, shame and berate ourselves. That’s certainly something I’ve done in the past. But I’m learning. This time, I chose to learn the lesson and move on. It was an expensive lesson (and one that won’t need repeating). But I decided not to continue paying the price by dwelling on it and ruining our vacation as a result. I chose to let it go.

“There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.”
  – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I share this somewhat embarrassing story with you so that the next time you make a mistake, you may choose to let it go too. Life is really too short to dwell on our mistakes. Let’s learn from them, forgive ourselves and move on.

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This post has 6 comments

  • Kayla says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, Hellen. I’m very hard on myself so I always have a very hard time letting go of my mistakes. It’s something that I’m working on!

  • Great story Hellen and such a good example of learning and moving on without the guilt.
    Thanks for putting yourself out there to share your own vulnerabilities so others can learn.

  • Ed Tate says:

    This is an excellent reminder that we should pay for our mistakes only once. More than once is self-martyrdom. You beat yourself up and it does no good. Learn and Let it go.

    • sylvie says:

      Hellen what a great post… love the quote… Ed thank you for that insight… never dawned on me but it makes perfect sense… pay once… after that it’s being a martyr… love it.

  • vicky says:

    At least you knew just where to find it. If it was me, I would have had to tear the house apart to locate it!

  • Suzanne Parnell says:

    My mom passed away on Sept 15 2012 and my daughter and I were extremely close to “Grannie”

    I have not reviewed my e-mail for a looooong time as mom was gravely sick for an extended period but refused to leave without a fight.

    I was reviewing your website for assistance with clearing a home after death and found “Ooops”.

    I too am the person that berates herself for past mistakes and have been remembering all the mistakes/errors/harsh words said in the past/etc. then read your comments “I share this somewhat embarrassing story with you so that the next time you make a mistake, you may choose to let it go too. Life is really too short to dwell on our mistakes. Let’s learn from them, forgive ourselves and move on.”

    Instant break-down! I have been trying to teach my daughter to be kinder to herself (read “less like me”) when errors are made but still remember all my own.

    Your comments are exactly what I needed to read. I promise to try.