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Mistakes and us. How we create our own villains, akin to Batman's role in shaping the Joker.

When the advice is to "Don’t Let Your Failures Define You" but they do, it highlights the nature of human experiences where overcoming setbacks and failures can be challenging despite the intention not to let them shape one's identity.

21 Mar '24
9 min read


Mistakes often shape us up. play a significant role in shaping our experiences and relationships. Just as Batman inadvertently contributed to the creation of his arch-nemesis, the Joker, our own actions can sometimes lead to the emergence of adversaries. By recognizing the impact of our choices and behaviors, we can gain insight into how we may unintentionally create challenges or conflicts in our lives.

Former US President Barack Obama has an interesting take on this, “Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who have had failures.

J.K Rowling, who wrote Harry Potter: her first Harry Potter book was rejected 12 times before it was finally published.

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, ‘I have failed over and over and over in my life and that is why I succeed.’

These people succeeded because they understood that you can’t let your failures define you. You have to let your failures teach you and show you what to do differently next time.” 

But what if, despite facing 12 rejections, experiencing 100 losses, making 1000 mistakes, and encountering repeated failures, success still eludes you?

Who are you then, if not your mistakes?

Source: Pinterest

Don’t get me wrong, I do not disagree with Obama. I believe he is spot on. Our goals and achievements do come at the cost of walking barefoot on badly made roads filled with the potholes of our mistakes until we learn the significance of wearing shoes and then perhaps get to eventually find smoother paths to our final destination. 

It does make me wonder though about all the people whose names we will never hear being a part of any of the great quotes that will go down in history or get viral on a YouTube motivational video because they never ended up becoming a J.K Rowling or a Michael Jordan. 

And even they were, at one stage in their lives, just a regular person making a lot of mistakes and landing failed shots, like many out there might be right now at this very moment while you are reading this. 

Willpower can be overrated, environment can become everything:

For many of us out there who are questioning and doubting ourselves, we might just find the power to find answers within the right environment. 

But as James Clear, author of  the popular Atomic Habits, says, motivation is overrated and environment is everything.

Source: A T-Shirt Graphic By Zudio-Personal Archives

Let’s throw a scenario over here. I have a plant. But it has started wilting.

What would I usually do to revive a wilting plant? 

But what do I end up doing? 

Blame my family because they didn’t water? 

Blame myself since it was under my watch??

Blame nature?

Get offended that it wilted?

Source: Pinterest

When they say you have to let your failures teach you, but forget to tell you how:

Let’s go back to Obama’s quote, “These people succeeded because they understood that you can’t let your failures define you. You have to let your failures teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time

But how can one’s failures show them what to do differently next time if you are caught up in a loop of self-doubt and constant peer pressure? 

While it is understandable to experience frustration when projects misfire due to the lack of attention to detail or inefficiency, how we respond to it could make all the difference.

Not just for the employee but also for the employer who can ensure improved efficiency and sincerity by supporting the morale of the human being at the other end of the issue

We make our own villains:

Source: Pinterest

On the flip side, a person could transform into the type they once disdained. Take, for instance, a frazzled employee evolving into the team leader they once despised—berating their subordinates for errors, unable to offload the mounting workload, thus exacerbating existing pressures.

Just like how Batman's emergence as a hero gave birth to the powerful villain, the Joker, creating a balance of opposing forces, this dynamic doesn't benefit anyone. Being human is inherently difficult, with its own set of challenges.

So, why complicate things by creating adversaries through our handling of mistakes? Shouldn't we alleviate burdens and difficulties faced by others instead?

Source: Pinterest

The person receiving someone's intense disappointment might have already tried their best or could be struggling with their own worries.

The team leader could be panicking himself/herself/themselves, leading to their reaction.

While it's important to address mistakes, constant coddling isn't practical. The person at fault may feel inadequate, but it's crucial to consider if there was a lack of effort or sincerity on their part. The consequences can vary from business failure and financial loss to damage in credibility, values, and trust.

The Girl Who Made No Mistakes:

I've made my fair share of mistakes in life, and they weigh heavily on me. 

But when faced with real-world consequences, what good does this remorse do? It's as if I've exhausted every possible mistake imaginable, leaving me feeling like a mere shadow of my former self. Not only have these errors affected me personally, but professionally as well. 

I've become someone I once feared, where I am more haunted by the idea of being perceived as a failure than actually failing at a job.   

Life had been a whirlwind of regrets and self doubt alongside striving to shine as the best worker no matter what the job was and most dangerously, maintaining the status quo untarnished. 
One day I found myself sitting at a cafe contemplating my then recent failures at work.  

Feeling overworked and doubtful as a creator, one mistake overshadowed everything else like a stubborn stain on a clean white T-shirt, drawing all attention to it. The ninety-nine percent of the time when I performed flawlessly seemed insignificant to me now. 

Source: Pinterest

I could not think beyond what people thought of me. Mental and physical exhaustion was at its peak. This was only getting worse. This loop of procrastination persisted, with each thought spiraling upon itself until I was snapped back to reality by a high pitch clink of a tea cup against the saucer placed on the table by the server. I had even forgotten about my order.  

As the server moved away revealing a shelf of books just behind him, a peculiar children's book caught my eye

Titled, The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, the title stood out among others due to its bright colorful cover.  

While I did not believe in signs from the universe, this occurrence oddly felt like a poignant cosmic message.

Source: The Cover Illustration Of The Book Found At The Cafe-Really Good Reads

The story goes. Meet Beatrice Bottomwell: a nine-year-old girl who has never (not once!) made a mistake. She never forgets her math homework, she never wears mismatched socks, and she ALWAYS wins the yearly talent show at school. In fact, Beatrice holds the record of perfection in her hometown, where she is known as The Girl Who Never Makes Mistakes. Life for Beatrice is sailing along pretty smoothly until she does the unthinkable and makes her first mistake. And in a very public way! 

Not a self-help or a memoir but a simple children’s book with a relevant story for our times  offered me reflection on the true purpose of a creative piece.   

I had a moment of clarity when I realised that it's natural for others to have views on our strengths and weaknesses, thus influencing how we perceive our own capabilities.

"Just because no one saw me excelling at running as a six-month-old baby, does not mean I can never become a good runner"

The fear of making mistakes and failing is the end of the human spirit.

From one human being to another:


Perhaps we should embrace the idea of being wrong or failing from a young age which would enable us to move on to better pastures.

As mentioned in a popular Ted Ed video essay on YouTube, we  see failure as a pivotal moment in our growth journey, a stumble that will happen as we strive for progress. 

But learning from our mistakes isn't always easy; sometimes they leave us feeling disheartened, overwhelmed, or simply lost. So what stops us from turning those moments of failure into stepping stones towards mastery?

It’s the pain that accompanies the failure. It hits hard, shaking our belief in ourselves leaving us feeling unsure. 

The blow to our confidence isn't just a temporary setback; it can get harder for us to take in new information, slowing down our learning process.

Plus, how we react to failure depends a lot on what we're doing. Take a group of learners, for example. Beginners tend to crave encouragement to keep them going while more experienced folks prefer tough love to push them further towards efficiency. It's akin to beginners needing a cheerleader, while the pros seek a coach to help them excel.

But whether we're newbies or old hands, it's often easier to learn from our wins than our losses. 

When we do well, it's clear what went right and what we should do next time. But when we fail, it's like trying to find our way through a fog; we're not always sure where we went wrong or how to find the right trail.

Still, it's natural to be inclined to learn from our failures. They're part of the journey, after all. But if we get too caught up with them, we risk forgetting about all the times we've succeeded. 

At times our progress, however small they might be, is the best way to keep moving forward. 

So let's be kind to ourselves, celebrate our victories, and keep pushing towards our goals, one step at a time.

We can be a society that celebrates not just the extraordinary success stories like J.K. Rowling or Michael Jordan, but also honors the journeys of everyday individuals.

Individuals who strive, give their all, and leave a mark with inspiring words that resonate through history or go viral on motivational platforms.

To anyone reading this today:

  • Embrace your uncertainties about the next job.
  • Release the burden of past mistakes at work.
  • Heal from the wounds of feeling inadequate.
  • Know that effort is never in vain, even if success seems elusive.
  • Make peace with choices made and dreams pursued.
  • Understand that timing is never too late or too soon.
  • Face future uncertainties with courage.
  • Remember that wealth doesn't define your worth.
  • Believe that light can pierce through darkness.
  • Seek support to overcome addiction.
  • Embrace the shared humanity in feeling pain and vulnerability.

And in the words of Casey Neistat, American YouTube personality“Do What You Can’t“ 

Source: Pinterest
Category : Personal Experience


Written by Saneki Basundhara

Writer, Assistant Director