Reporter Mertha questions the necessity of mistakes

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 26, 2001

Correction: Last week I ended my column with some false information.

Friday, January 26, 2001

Correction: Last week I ended my column with some false information. Apparently Bob Vilt and me are more alike in our political views than I thought. We actually voted for the same person. Who knew? I will leave you to go back and read who that was for yourself, as Vilt should be allowed to out his own presidential choice without my help.

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Anyway, on to this week’s column. The above instance was the result of false hearing and assumption. Two big mistakes for a reporter.

Yes, I make mistakes. We all do, right? But frankly, I have a really hard time dealing with my own mistakes – with that first word above that starts with a "c" and ends with a "tion." Yet try as I might, I continue to make mistakes on a daily basis.

I’m a perfectionist, you see. I’m one of those annoying people who lines up spice labels in my cupboard and straightens pictures as I walk through my apartment.

So a mistake, making one and then having to admit that I’m imperfect, has always been an enormous task for me. I think at times my rationale has been that if I don’t admit it, then it isn’t a fact and I’m still perfect. It’s ridiculous, I know, but that’s what I’ve thought. (Notice the last sentence was written in the past tense.)

Only recently have I began to come to terms with making mistakes and being imperfect. Let’s set aside the possible contributing factors from my childhood that I have mulled over, since we all have contributing factors and have all come from some type of dysfunction if we read all the literature.

I suppose I could blame my religious upbringing. Somehow in the years of learning about the Trinity and forgiveness, other messages about the evil of sin permeated my psyche and mixed with the idea of living in error. If I wanted to attain perfection, I shouldn’t sin, let alone think of sin, right? Wrong. That was another instance where I lept into thinking something that was irrational and frankly, impossible.

So, what do all of these ramblings mean? Beats me.

No, actually all of this means something and I will eventually get to my point.

Lately when I’ve made mistakes I’ve been ashamed, been emotional at the realization, and yet I’ve accepted it. I can finally say that a line in the movie "Little Woman" sums me up perfectly (pun intended), "I’m hopelessly flawed."

But everything that I pile on myself and all of my fears of being less that perfect are my perceptions and no one else’s. I’ve harmed no one with the pressure that I put on myself more than I have myself.

Gradually I’m learning that erring is required for growth – "to err is human," right?

It’s kind of like when you get lost heading to an important destination – after finding the right route you always remember how you got there, but because of the wrong turn you’ve also seen a section of town you’ve never been to before – a section that you’ll probably see again. Make sense?

And that last illustration is strictly random and has no resemblance to my travels thus far in Austin. Um, yeah.