don’t rake up my mistakes, I know exactly what they are


Since my computer is STILL in the monkeyfrickin’ shop, I’ve been using Lucy’s little laptop to perform the barest minimum of online duties. It’s hardly Lucy’s to begin with – she used it when she was 4 to play some Boowa & Kwala games, spilled yams on it, and hasn’t really touched it since.

All of the emails I’ve been sending are stuck here on the desktop, one of which just caught my eye. A good, wonderful friend was bemoaning her lack of self-confidence, how she believes it may have thrown her into terrible relationships and kept her dong things she should have quit years ago. She imagines a world where she might go back in time, and fix this part of her. Here’s a bit of what I wrote back:


As an annoying person, occasionally I have to remind certain people that my flaws are not separate from who I am, they are part of everything I do, and that includes the good stuff. In my case, I can spend days not appearing to do anything, forgetting to do basic household stuff, forgetting deadlines and staying up too late going down “research” rabbit holes with no apparent relevance to anything we’re doing. It sucks, and it’s no fun for the family when I sleep in too late.

But then, occasionally, I will save our ass in a meeting with a high-level exec because I happen to know a bizarre amount of detail about their personal passion, which is because I spent one night, months before, looking at maps of every Class IV, V and VI whitewater rapids in the country AND I HAVE NEVER GONE WHITEWATER KAYAKING.


although it looks awesome

Even better, one tidbit in this mountain of daydreaming and free-association “study” will germinate into an idea that becomes a script that eventually pays for our health care.

Granted, I can already see the eye-rolling and the ways this can be twisted to justify any sort of laziness, and it runs the risk of becoming precious, yes, yes, I know. And this doesn’t mean shit like “if I don’t do heroin I won’t be a rock star.” But the larger point is that anyone’s flaws could be considered part and parcel of their best features.

You might look at your “lack of self-confidence” as something that has served you in good stead, maybe even helped you in the past. Call it something else, perhaps… it’s not “lack of self-confidence” but more a desire for love combined with trepidation. Consider your flaws like baker’s chocolate; gross by itself, but delightful in a mousse.

It’s okay to try and fix it if you’re constantly annoyed by it – I have also truncated my habits and now get up hours before I used to – but the next time you get angry by your past confidence issues, just remind yourself it’s not a bug, it’s a feature.


I suppose my question to you is… do you agree with this in principle? And if so, what is your flaw, and how is it part of something wonderful in you?

0 thoughts on “don’t rake up my mistakes, I know exactly what they are

  1. kevin from NC

    My biggest flaw… I am too trusting and it has cost me dearly in so many ways through the years. But I don’t think I would have it any other way. I do have more wisdom now and hope I can mitigate this issue a bit going into the future. I am not sure I could live w/o trusting others regardless of the hurt it lays at my feet at times. I would be lost I suspect.

  2. Anne

    I realized, deep into adulthood, that I have a short attention span (possibly even ADD), coupled with short bursts of rabid fascination and enthusiasm. Maybe it was no accident that I stumbled into journalism and writing as a career: I’ve had to report on everything from endowment investment practices to the mathematical brain-function models developed by a Nobel laureate physicist to the postmodern fiction of Bob Coover. Etc.
    This meant that for most of my career I’ve been a jack of all trades, and master only of writing about almost any subject under the sun. I’m a deep expert on very little, but being eclectic and omnivorous about knowledge has served me well. Like you, Ian, I often can connect with people I meet professionally because I know enough about a passion of theirs to carry on an exuberant conversation and get them talking about it.
    Because I’ve done so much random stuff, from playing on the first women’s college ice hockey team in the US to attending a Star Wars convention to joining an archaeological dig in Sicily to hanging out with BB King and his family, I am at ease with people of varying interests and backgrounds.
    My flaw — short attention span — works for me because my career thrives on my knowing a little about a lot.

  3. Joanna

    I also often neglect my life while being sucked into research rabbit holes. Is it an ADD characteristic? I wondered, but didn’t realize I knew someone else who does this!

  4. CM

    There are probably several flaws that fit into this category. One is, I can be absent minded; I get distracted and fantasize and imagine things a lot. But it helps me cope with life, and it also helps me write stories. If I had to focus on each task right in front of me, in order, I would probably be very depressed.

  5. CM

    Kevin, I agree with you. I’d rather be an optimistic person who sometimes gets taken advantage of than a cynical person who can’t trust anyone. Don’t change!

  6. jif

    Sometimes, I am just such a perfectionist that I can’t leave things the way they are. I have to keep working on them until they are PERFECT… oh wait, that is the answer I used to give during job interviews when asked to describe my “weaknesses” HAHA. Flaws – let me count the ways. I HATE that i am really bad at finishing what I start (except your pop tarts ian!) and for the most part it is something that I consider a solid flaw, not a hidden asset.


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