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Society’s rules on remembering mistakes

The word “mistake” is defined in the dictionary as being “an action or judgement that is misguided or wrong.”

You’ve made mistakes, and I’ve made many mistakes.

If mistakes are so common and expected in life, then why do we as a society judge people on their mistakes and use them as labels?

One of the most common “mistakes” I hear about, via TV shows or social media, among other outlets, is teen pregnancy. People are labeled for being teen parents, but we don’t always know the circumstances behind it.

We don’t know the whole story, and yet we judge people anyway because they must have “made a mistake.”

We shouldn’t judge others based on one mistake and let it overshadow a lifetime of achievements and good deeds.

I once had a friend in middle school who was intelligent and usually a stickler for the rules, but there was this test in Spanish class that she forgot to study for one day, and she made the rash decision to cheat. She was caught, and even though she had no past offences and was widely known across the grade as being a good student, the teacher labeled her as being a “cheater,” and she was never given a second chance, even though she felt really bad and never cheated on a test again.

But this scenario happens to students all over the country on a daily basis, doesn’t it? Young people make mistakes in life all the time, and for some, these mistakes may be used to define them as overall people, and society is wrong to take one choice in your life and use it to assume all of your future decisions.

Making mistakes isn’t just for average people like us though. Celebrities make mistakes too, and more often than not, they feel bad about their actions and want to amend them. But usually society won’t let them, and they’re stuck with a reputation centered around one little mistake.

One of the most prominent examples today is Ryan Lochte, an American Olympic swimmer who vandalized a gas station during the Olympics in Rio and then lied about some of the events that occurred that night, including having a gun placed to his head by fake policemen. Lochte apologized for his actions, and on the premiere night of “Dancing with the Stars,” Lochte said that he agreed to do the show so that he could get a fresh start. On that same night, however, protesters rushed onto the stage wearing anti-Lochte t-shirts while accomplices in the crowd began to chant, “Liar!” toward the swimmer.

Even though Lochte apologized and appeared genuine in regret, he is still labeled as a “liar,” and this one mistake he made has seemed to overshadow his success as a competitive swimmer.

No one really remembers that he is a 12-time Olympic medalist who holds at least three world records and has been twice named the American and World Swimmer of the Year in 2010 and 2011. No. Now people remember him as the man who got drunk with his teammates and made irrational choices that got himself suspended for 10 months.

Drew Barrymore is in the same boat as Lochte. She developed an addiction to drugs and alcohol in her early teens, and after being sent to a rehabilitation center, things finally started to look up for the actress when she founded her own production company called Flower Films. As successful as she is now though, her early substance abuse will not be forgotten or let go.

Sure, celebrities are public figures and should be held to a higher standard because they are constantly in the spot light and are pressured to be good examples, but they are allowed to make mistakes too.

The point is, making mistakes is a natural and expected part of life. Everyone makes them, and everyone should have the right to be able to move on from them.

As students, we’re going to make dozens of bad mistakes over the course of our college careers, and then we’ll make even more after we graduate and enter the real world. If we go through life judging people and labeling them based on mistakes they’ve made in the past, then how are we ever going to learn from our mistakes and become more well-rounded and open-minded people?

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