Some lessons you have to learn the hard way. Some lessons you have to learn the hard and expensive way.
My dad describes these lessons as having “high tuition in the School of Life,” a metaphor that has at least made me smile through the tears as I’ve lamented to dear-old-dad more than one expensive error in the past.
Recently, I have made a few pricey and extremely frustrating mistakes. I misread a text from an airline notifying me of a delayed connecting flight, and ended up missing the first flight. I didn’t realize that a magazine subscription was set up for automatic renewal on an old (but not-cancelled) credit card, and so I missed a payment and had my first-ever late fee. I backed into a fire hydrant, majorly denting my bumper, while making a seventeen-point-turn to get out of a dead-end street.
What bothered me most about each of these situations — more than the toll they took on my bank account — was how sloppy they made me feel. With each mistake, I found myself baffled by the fact that they were happening, and inwardly revolting: I’m not the type of person who misses flights and neglects credit card payments and drives badly. I’m responsible! I’m organized! I’m careful! I hate to be melodramatic, but the blunders messed with my sense of identity.
Education is an investment of resources, financial and otherwise, and this is as true for the School of Life as it is for grammar school, secondary school, college and graduate school. As with any kind of investment, the hope is that the value gained exceeds the expenditure.
So, here’s to finishing these particular courses in the School of Life with good notes and significant insights! Here are some key lessons that I’m taking away from a missed flight, late fee and a dented bumper:
- Read any text with important information twice. Or three or four or five times. Read it out loud. Read it to a friend. Do whatever it takes to make sure you really take in the information.
- Don’t set up automatic renewals for magazines.
- Cancel old credit cards (or that one old credit card).
- When backing up, anytime, look very, very carefully.
- Don’t be afraid to tell a passenger that you need a moment of silence to concentrate.
- Remember: there isn’t a type of person who makes mistakes. We all make mistakes because we are human.
- Give grace and hugs to people when they make mistakes.