Yesterday morning I was in a fender-bender while out driving. No injuries and minor damage to my car (just a slightly dinged-up back fender). I backed out of a parking space and I won’t say I should have known better because shit like this happens (I won’t say any more about the accident other than it was a very tight parking area and neither of us had any room to maneuver).
I’m sure I sound like I’m getting my back up here over this but the reason I am (and the reason I’m posting this today though I’ve been pecking at this since yesterday afternoon) is that I don’t want to hear ‘should have known better’. No human being can be ON every second of every moment of every day and I will NOT kick the living crap out of myself because I was OFF for a split second.
What yesterday taught me yet again is that I’m human, and that I’m far from perfect. But I’m not a bad person. No one was hurt and the damage is repairable. Life went on like before and the sun set and rose again this morning.
But the phrase ‘should have known better’ is a bitter and ugly pill I refuse to swallow. To me, that phrase only applies when someone knowingly and willingly causes harm in the world out of pure meanness, cruelty, or a lack of compassion and empathy through an evil worship of greed and hatred of others.
So if you’re not doing that, and the vast majority of people on planet Earth aren’t, then you’re okay. Because as I like to say, I’m just as full of shit as anyone else but that I’m not a bad person either.
Another reason I get my back up at ‘should have known better’ is that two years ago I was listening to a call with my supervisor and I bungled it a little at the beginning (I read off something incorrectly). I recovered and corrected everything and ended the call on a positive note. Yet my supervisor said I should have known better to begin with and that it was a mistake I shouldn’t have made.
Now my usual reaction to that would have been to kick the crap out of myself and grovel along the floor like a pathetic ball of drool. Instead, I said nothing even though all I could think was this: why wasn’t I allowed to make a mistake? Because the mistake I did make was totally correctable and proved that I am human. And from that day forward, my whole attitude towards myself and my place in the world changed forever. And it’s a change I’m so happy to have happened to me. It hasn’t been easy to work through at times, but it’s been more than worth it in the end.
So if you want my two-cents worth of advice: unless someone is being an evil shit-head (i.e., the Republican Senators in Congress who crafted the health-care bill that will cause people to suffer and die), don’t say to anyone that they should have known better. No one is without flaws and no one can be perfect every second of every day. So DON’T set that expectation for anyone, even yourself.
We all get dented up from time to time. So all we can do is just keep driving and fix whatever we can.