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The Value of Taking Risks and Making Mistakes

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On the television show “The Magic School Bus,” Miss Frizzle, the over-eccentric, adventuresome teacher, always says, “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!” She is stressing that not taking risks and, in turn, not making mistakes is nearly equivalent to not learning. If one wants to live a thrilling and, more importantly, fulfilled life, they need to take risks. Moreover, if one wants to become educated, they need to make mistakes.

Alexander Smith once said, “Everything is sweetened by risk.” Risk teaches us to weigh our options and decide which of those options is the most appealing, if not a beneficial choice. Of course, sometimes the chosen choice requires us to leave our so-called “comfort bubble” in favor of an adventure. A cautious life – that is, one where the options selected are not audacious or beneficial – is a boring life. Sometimes, we need to stop making rules, pop our own comfort bubbles and start breaking the rules that we set in stone.

This is furthered by the fact that most opportunities come from, and are rewarded by, taking risks. We simply cannot wait for the opportunity to grab us by the hand and drag us to the reward. Instead, we need to take a running start and grab the opportunity’s hand on the way to the reward. That is being an effective risk-taker as well as a human with plenty of initiative.

Sometimes, when we take a risk, we make a mistake. Quite frankly, I believe that making mistakes is actually more advantageous than merely learning a subject. George Elliot said, “A string of mistakes is actually a string of memoirs.” We learn and retain information better when we make a mistake. It is a weird concept, but it also makes sense when you look at it from another angle. When I make a mistake (and trust me, I make many), I figure out what I did wrong, and I figure out how to do it the proper way. This is explained by the quote “to err is human, to forgive divine.” We make an error, and we are forgiven by figuring out the correct answer. Again, it is an uncanny concept, but when one dissects it, it makes perfect sense.

Making a mistake is not always a horrible thing. In fact, humans utilize a number of inventions now on a daily basis that were the outcome of an experiment gone wrong. Some of the more humorous ones include the Frisbee (which originated from pie tins), potato chips (cuisine gone “horribly right”), Post-It notes (the infamous “sticky solution”), and cheese (leaving milk in a pouch made of animal stomach caused it to curd up). Furthermore, some of the most important inventions of all time came from mistakes as well. Included in this list are tires and penicillin. To think, without some of these inventions, life may not be the way it is today.

Although taking risks and making mistakes may sound like the wrong things to do, they are, in actual reality, the only way to live life to the fullest. Therefore, to anyone who wants to exhilarate their lives: take the risk, discover the opportunity waiting for someone to grab it, and learn from your mistakes – because sometimes, the finest things come from the most unexpected of places.

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