Nothing Wrong with Being Wrong

9:51 AM

The first time I got an eye exam, age in the single digits, I memorized the chart. My older brother went first and got everything perfect. I went next and couldn't read some of those teeny tiny letters. No worries -- I just copied what my brother said. No way was he going to show me up. No way was I going to be wrong.

Over ten years later, I can't read the professor's handwriting on the board anymore without glaring at it. The thought of faking a perfect eye exam score just to be right and not wrong makes me cringe. If I get all the letters right on my next exam through elementary crookery, I will probably slowly go blind and require a golden retriever to lick my hand in Morse code to remind me what the prof just said about Pythagoras. Bottom line: I need to show my farsight's failing so that it won't fail anymore.

It took me forever to even begin grasping this concept: being wrong is not necessarily wrong. Mispronouncing "Hippocrates" of course got a round a insulting college student laughter, but I never mispronounced it ever again. Goofing up a big work transaction made me bawl in the back room for my entire fifteen minute break, but you better believe I don't space out at work anymore. Misspelling "allocate" (why did I go against my gut?) in the regional spelling bee ended my chances of moving forward, sure, but at least I learned a new word.

Nothing changes or improves when I'm wrong and then fight to seem right. Not even my precious ego remains in the end, because how clever is it to muscle my way to the top with a stupid argument? I can't even respect myself.

I think I learned to be okay with being wrong when I saw my wanna-be-right-no-matter-what attitude on other people. It wasn't pretty. It was ridiculous. "Dude, just admit you're wrong. It's not a big deal. Nobody's mad at you." I witnessed this most during presidential debates: Everyone and your own self knows you're wrong. Denying it makes you look like a dishonest idiot. People don't vote for dishonest idiots. Oh. Well, actually....

If you really want respect and admiration, just admit you're wrong when you're wrong. You'll learn, grow, and change really fast, because if you're like me, you've got plenty of mistakes from which to learn. People might make fun of you, but they can't use words like stubborn, demanding, or proud without being wrong themselves.

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8 impressions

  1. This was really great. I've been trying over the last few months to force myself to admit when I'm wrong. Sometimes I'll get into a friendly (although heated!) debate with friends or siblings over something. Well, I can't help it that I'm usually right, can I? LOL. But then, sometimes, I'm wrong. Oh it stings. Why? I don't know why. It's not like my being wrong is the worst thing that's ever happened to me. Plus I'm sure it's nice for the other person to feel like, "Finally! I was right and she was wrong. Hahaha!"
    It's good to be put in your place a little bit if your getting proud and know-it-all; and then admitting you were wrong is a sign of maturity (not necessarily humility, but it's a start in that direction).

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  2. Well sad. This is something I need to work on.

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  3. "Admitting you are wrong, when you are wrong" is the crux of the issue. How other people perceive us is of little value.

    Admitting we are wrong, when we are not convinced we are wrong is simply lying. So however ridiculously big of a dishonest idiot we may appear to others, lying is not the solution.

    Though lying about being wrong will still result in learning, rapid change, and growth in a direction we may not want to grow. As in the example of the eye test, corrective lenses, when none are needed, are just as damaging as not getting corrective lenses, when they are needed.

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  4. I've been learning this over the last few years. All my life (read "childhood"), I wanted to be the good girl, I wanted to be perfect. If I was, everything would turn out well for me, everyone would like me. Through a period of depression, I realized how much pressure, impossible pressure, I was putting on myself. And when I learned to give up my great desire to be always right, I felt so free. That isn't to say that I still don't want to be right sometimes. Still too often...

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  5. Excellent thoughts! I've been thinking about this a lot on my own blog (One lil' Christian Feminist). As a fellow student, I love reading your blog! You often seem to touch on topics that I've been pondering, or point me in new directions. And it's always beautifully written.

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  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I struggle so much with always wanting to be right and try to defend myself when I am wrong.

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  7. Lovely thoughts. I am realizing that trying to be right and smart and perfect all the time is no way to live life. Everyone has their weak points. I gotta stop trying to fake it out and hope people don't realize I feel like an idiot...it separates me from people.

    BTW, I have been a frequent visitor (though a rare commenter) of your blog for many years now. I was wondering if I had your permission to link to some of your previous posts on my blog? I would love to share your thoughts with others.

    In Christ,

    Jillian

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  8. Jillian, I'd love for you to link to my blog! Thank you for asking!

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