How to Forgive Yourself for Being Stupid and Everything Else

Tangled fishing line When you’re driving to work or doing something where you zone out for a minute, do you ever randomly remember weird/stupid/embarssing things from your past and feel terrible about it for no reason? For example, when I was a stupid kid, I once said something very racist to a black lady without realizing that I was saying something racist. The worst part of the memory is that she was too nice or too flabbergasted to correct me, and she simply smiled and walked away. I would NEVER say the same thing as an adult, but I still feel like a jerk for saying it way back then. When I remember this moment, I just sigh real loud or make a noise like, “BLARGH! Shut up brain!”

But here’s the thing, you’ve got to know when to let go.

Here are some other things I obsess about:

  • everything that’s wrong with me
  • always falling just shy of perfection on my 4th grade spelling tests
  • that time in 6th grade when I was told I was overweight and the fact that I have weighed approximately the same thing ever since
  • that time in the 3rd grade when I couldn’t memorize the multiplication tables, and these two kids made fun of me for it
  • that time in kindergarten when my mom was quietly listening to some other parents talk and, thinking she was acting too shy, I told her in front of everyone that she should talk more because she looked like a nerd

These are all rather meaningless things, but I sometimes drag them out when I feel inexplicably compelled to beat myself up.

Not every problem is a knot to untie. Not every snag is a nail that must be beaten down. Sometimes, things are just little inconveniences that we step past. Sometimes, what seems to be a deep-seated “issue,” is just part of who we are. Sometimes acknowledging and accepting things as they are makes them a lot easier to deal with.It’s terribly easy to get lost in this labyrinth of complicated identity issues and things we’d rather forget, and it’s terribly hard to get out.


Unless you can just let go.

Accept that you have occasionally said or done things you wish you hadn’t. Apologize if you feel the need, but then, LET IT GO. If I could go back and apologize to that one lady for being such an ignorant child, I would. However, I can’t, so I just have to do better in the future.

Accept that some things just don’t come naturally to you and that doesn’t make you any less valid as a person. I will never apply for an accounting gig. I’m a writer but not a great speller. So what? Let it go.

Accept and let go.
Accept and let go.
Accept and let go.

Trying to puzzle it out, while you may think you’re being accepting of yourself, is actually a denial of what is. You’re trying to fix something, trying to make yourself different than you are, and wasting a lot of energy on obsessive thought. If you want to improve yourself, focus on your thoughts and actions right now instead of the past. But tracing out the entire history of your bank account is actually a huge waste of time and energy. Cut that out. Let it go. Wipe the slate clean where possible, and move forward.

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2 thoughts on “How to Forgive Yourself for Being Stupid and Everything Else

  1. Thank you for writing this. Since nobody talks about this kind of thing, it’s easy to fall into the belief that nobody feels dumb all the time except me. But in reality, it’s something we all have to work on.

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