This year often felt like one long politics-induced panic attack. But if we learned anything from Harry Potter is that to give in to that panic, to let anxiety take over and to shrink into a hardened nihilist shell would be to let the death eaters win. So with that in mind, I give you the most important lesson this year taught me and the things that made me hopeful and happy.
The lesson: It’s OK to be wrong.
This is something that I already knew, that all of us know, that people tell us and that we tell our children over and over. But it’s a lesson we have to keep learning. This year, I learned that being wrong is like being the Wily Coyote just after he’s walked off the cliff and just before he notices there is no ground below him. Being wrong is like walking on air. We’re happy and blissful floating up there in our wrongness until we realize it—or until someone points it out. When that happens, we panic—oh, shit, we’re gonna fall and it’s going to be painful! Sometimes, when the lesser angels in our nature win out, we swallow the panic and look up and go on thinking we’re right, not wrong, and keep walking on air precariously and self-righteously, ignoring our wrongness for as long as it takes to convince ourselves that we were never wrong. Eventually, the lies we tell ourselves to keep up the charade become true again, and they become harder “truths” to dispel.
Being wrong is hard, physically and emotionally. Owning up to it requires falling down into the abyss, picking ourselves up and licking our wounds when we hit bottom. But when we’re done doing that we can learn. We can grow. We can get better.
In 2018, I’m going to pledge to be OK being wrong, being OK with not knowing the answers, being OK when someone tells me I’ve made a mistake, being OK when someone disagrees with me.
But, of course, if I’m not wrong, I will reserve the right to say, “I told you so.” (Some lessons are harder to learn than others.)
The stuff that made me hopeful and happy:
- My husband and I celebrated 10 years of marriage by leaving our kids for a week and going to the Pacific Ocean to drink a lot of wine.
- My older daughter started kindergarten.
- My younger daughter started her first class (ballet/tap) that isn’t a parent-toddler class.
- One sister graduated from college, and she and I spent one super fun evening of quality time in Chicago.
- Another sister gave me another year of bragging about her being at Harvard Business School.
- My brother got engaged to an amazing person I would be friends with anyway, but wouldn’t know if it weren’t for my brother.
- My mom’s company announced her well-deserved retirement after 20-plus years there.
- My friends who ran/are running for office.
- The millions of people who participated in the women’s march.
- Lady Bird
- The Last Jedi
- All the books I read
- Sam Smith’s new album
- My subscription to the Denver Center for Performing Arts
- Master of None and The Good Place
- My garden
Happy New Year, friends! And remember, it’s OK to be wrong.