I have made so many mistakes. I make them daily, and can’t even begin to count them all. But generally, I have managed to shake off the humiliations and carry on. In the end, after some distance from whatever it was I blew in a major way, I can usually find the humor in it - and I can almost always find the lesson.

I think my mistakes come from my fears. The big mistakes, the humiliating ones, the wincers. The ones where you’re walking up Madison Avenue and it flashes across your memory, and you just wince. NO! I didn’t do that. NO! Your whole body shudders. What can you do? Absolutely nothing - you just have to wince and keep walking. We’ve all been there.

But it all starts in fear. My personal fears are all pretty predictable: not being liked, or being left behind, not succeeding, getting rejected. It doesn’t seem too bad when I just list them like that, but the fear is a killer, man. Once that kicks in, it takes over, and I start talking and making decisions from that perspective - from the place of fear, which is similar to drunk driving and eating pizza at the same time. No bueno. For example, I was once at a party in the Hollywood Hills, and this super fox comes over, and starts chatting me up. This is unusual, since I was never a magnet for guys unless they wanted to talk about their relationships with someone else (on a side note: I give great relationship advice.) Anyway: Cool guy, rock star guitar player, all the things that would validate a fearful person like me and – OH GOD I'M CRINGING REMEMBERING THIS AS I TYPE IT – this guy is all over me, asking me questions. Completely focused on me, hanging on every word, right? I was, like – does he think I’m someone else? The topic turns to movies after a bit, and he says that the Marx Brothers films are his all-time favorites. Before I know it, I blurt out, “ME TOO!”

Just to be clear: I had never seen a Marx Brothers movie in my entire life. I had heard of them, but as far as I was concerned, they were The Three Stooges. I was hoping like hell that I could bluff my way through, or quickly change the topic - not happening. Even I, the master manipulator, could not turn this sinking ship around. Why didn’t I just say “ I’m kidding?” I didn’t, and he can't believe his luck – a girl who loves The Marx Brothers as much as he does. Poor guy. He went deep, and I had no F-ing idea what he was talking about, and that became very obvious after a few direct questions. Real tough ones, like: “What’s your favorite Marx Brothers movie, Beata?" And my answer: “Gee, John, hard to say. I love them all.”

It just got worse from there. You can fill in the rest of the blanks for yourself. It didn’t end well, but I tell it to illustrate that if I had just told the truth, and not been so afraid of rejection, things would have gone differently for me. I wouldn’t have lost all my power, and I would have been able to be me, which is truthfully so much more attractive than being a Marx Brothers fan.

That was a long time ago and I have come along way. The mistakes I make nowadays are business-related, with the occasional interpersonal collision, but they still stem from the same place. Unlike that afternoon in the Hills, I can identify it now, and take measures to prevent it.

I do many things to keep it under control: I work, I write, I do deep breathing practicing Tai Chi, I run, I hike, I talk, I go to the hairdresser, and I hide. Sometimes, I have medicated for it in various ways, but ultimately that doesn’t work for me. I just have to make the mistakes and pick myself up and get on with it. Drag my ass to John Barrett, get a blow out, and go to work. I have to live my life - be a wife, a mother, a friend. Try not to exaggerate too much and keep going, because we’re only human. And most importantly -- apologize when I have been out of order, and this is part of what humans do: we make mistakes. I think those people that get on with it and try to not make the same mistakes are the golden ones – flawed but golden. And that’s what I want to be - flawed gold.


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John Barrett

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