Sunday, December 4, 2011

Learning the Hard Way

Why is it that we have to learn so many things in life the hard way? It seems that, so often, we have to make mistakes and go through a lot of anguish and frustration before we get it right. Even worse, sometimes we forget what we’ve learned the hard way and we make the same mistake again. Unfortunately, that’s happened to me a time or two.
Which is why I created my “Things to Always Remember (so I don’t make the same mistakes again)” book. Seriously. It’s a small, hard bound book the size of a diary. In it, I list mistakes I’ve made and don’t want to repeat. Here are a some excerpts from my little book:
·   Never use oven cleaner on anything but the oven. Not on the top of the stove, nowhere else! (I know, that’s what it says on the can.) Nevertheless . . . .
·   Always try on jeans before you buy them. (Saves you standing in a long return line.)
·   Never let anyone work on your computer except a professional or someone you are sure knows what he’s doing. (And don’t take anyone’s word for that; have proof.)
·   Do not paint anything with oil-based paint unless you absolutely have to. (I think this speaks for itself.)
·   Do not take your entire novel to a writers’ conference unless an agent or editor has asked you to do so. (You’ll lug it around all day - for nothing! If someone wants to read it, you can email it to them; that doesn’t weigh anything.)  
·   When making a recipe with potatoes, do not peel them ahead of time and put them in the refrigerator, thinking they’ll stay nice and fresh. (They turn gray.)
·   When you’re putting several strands of lights on your Christmas tree, be sure you’ll end up with prongs to plug in the outlet. (Otherwise, you’ll have to take them all off and start over.)
·   To paint a ceiling, use a regular roller with a long handle, not one with a drip pan. (It nicks the ceiling.) But, maybe that’s just me.
There’s an interesting story behind each one of these entries. I laughed as I typed them, recalling each incident, but I didn’t laugh when they happened. I’m sure, as time goes by, I’ll have more to put in my little book. I try not to make mistakes, especially ones that will cost me time and/or money. But I don’t feel too bad about learning some things the hard way because I’ve never yet heard anyone say, “I learned it the easy way.”


  1. This brought a smile - and your last line, particularly! Maybe I have learned some things the easy way by reading your post :)

  2. Melodie,
    I hope you have gotten a few pointers from my post so that you can say, "I learned that the easy way."
    You've been such a help to me - with my writing - that, although it's not been "easy," I've learned a lot from you. Thanks!

  3. Good work, Patricia. If you ever compile these into a book, I recommend you tell short versions of the stories behind these lessons. Could be a winner—and more entertaining than Heloise.

  4. Unfortanely, I have experienced a few of these in my own way. I now laugh about these too. I also learn a lot of things the hard way. But without these events in our life what would we have to laugh about? Love the blog.

  5. Reading your post made me feel like a genius! Those are some terrific screw-ups.

  6. Thanks for your comments, John, Kat and Sunny! It's interesting that, when I was younger, I took things a lot more seriously than I do now. (Not that I'm old, mind you!) I've learned to laugh at myself and, as you've just read, I give myself plenty of opportunities to do that!

  7. Great post, Patricia. Today someone told me that after a day of making a particular blunder some more experienced people came through and told him how it should be done. He still couldn't figure out why no one told him earlier in the day the correct way to do it. Who knows? We live and learn.

  8. Theresa,
    You got that right! We sure do "live and learn" and a lot of the time it's "the hard way."

  9. I can identify with several of your comments. Nice post.
    Catherine Hershberger

  10. May I suggest that in addition to your 'mistakes' book you also keep a success journal to remind you of the times you did something well? It will lift your spirits when you're feeling down after a bad mistake.

  11. Thanks for your comments, Catherine and Angela. A success journal - not a bad idea.

  12. And then there are those of us who don't always learn quick enough. LOL Great post. You brightened my day. Thanks!

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  14. Marja,
    Maybe we should form a club! Thanks for your comments; they brightened MY day!