“To Eat Crow”- Eating crow is a U.S. colloquial idiom, meaning humiliation by admitting wrongness or having been proved wrong after taking a strong position. Eating crow is presumably foul-tasting in the same way that being proved wrong might be emotionally hard to swallow. – Wikipedia
It’s that feeling you get when you’re stuck in a line of traffic when you have somewhere to be. It’s feeling that your insides are swelling from your stomach to your throat, and you’re hoping that none of your coworkers take notice to the sweat beads glistening from the pores all across your face.
And that’s me, sitting at my desk and rapidly approaching a daily panic session where I’m afraid that this is all a mistake. I’m sure my coworkers wonder in their side glances why I’m so red faced and sweaty, and I curse myself for not having a cuter method of panic.
You see- like many children of this generation, I was raised on a heavy dose of Disney movies. As a child, I believed I would grow up in constant battle against the world’s evils, gallantly overcoming the odds with flawlessly full-bodied hair and a handsome prince at my side. In reality, I grew into an awkward teenager in the high school marching band, eventually overcoming a 22-year awkward phase and using my college degree to land a job collecting trailer payments. And did I mention that I was single?
Not exactly a fairy tale.
But flash forward to the present, and I’ve made it to a secure and tolerable place in a life. Why rock the boat?
That’s what the past two weeks have been since deciding to quit my responsible adult life – a turbulent ride between the hills of excited elation and the valley of self-doubt. I’m afraid of making a mistake.
The thing about growing up is that no one ever teaches you to properly reconcile the childhood fairy tales with the realities of a non-magical world. People tell you not to lose grip of your inner child, and they neglect to tell you how the bad guys aren’t often equipped with crooked noses, tentacles, or two-toned hair. They leave out how real life evils aren’t always spells that can be undone, and sometimes innocence is lost in horrific ways.
We are left to discern it all on our own.
And along the way I’ve made mistakes. I’ve dated a multitude of frogs, I’ve befriended the wrong people, and I’ve packed on some unwanted pounds because no one ever told Sleeping Beauty that she’d get fat if she didn’t wake up and work out.
Thus, I’ve found myself less as the beloved princess with the happily ever after and more times the village idiot eating crow in the corner. And oh! have I eaten my fair share.
For many, that’s normally the point of surrender- or at least it should be, right? One mistake- understandable. Two- forgivable. Three- You moron! Shouldn’t you have learned by now?
And so it seems with every mistake made on our journey into adulthood, we allow the ghost of our past mistakes, our past hurts and trials, to disenchant us. It’s the disconsolate whisper in Peter Pan’s ear ruefully suggesting that it’s time to grow up.
It’s a ruthless limbo binding us to the past, reminding us of where we went wrong, preventing us from pressing forward. It’s the place where we punish ourselves for our lapse in judgment and question whether we even deserve to let go and move on.
But all ye hesitant, all ye pained- let me tell you something about the art of mistakes. As a well-seasoned mistake maker, I bring you good news in the art of eating crow. While it never gets any easier to swallow, it is not asked that you forever pay for your past indiscretions. Maybe, in your crow eating moment, you’ll hang your head in the corner while you finish your plate, but after that- you’re done.
For every mistake you’ve made, for every time you’ve taken a faulty stand, it is time to stomach the crow and get out of that corner. It is time to move forward, empowered by the wisdom of hindsight, to take another chance. To risk another mistake.
In fact, in my crow eating moments, I have realized this: For every mistake you ever make, you will only ever owe these two things to anyone:
1) Sometimes an apology.
2) Always a comeback.
And make sure that you always come back. Always.
So maybe our lives aren’t fairy tales, but they are certainly not without wonder.
You see, every day we awake to see a world where the efforts of us hard-working, non-magical folk meet the efforts of God. Where the creations of our hands meet the grace and beauty of His.
It isn’t fairy dust. It’s sweat and tears, trial and error- mistakes and comebacks.
So while story books end, let your happily ever after be your epic comeback- every time you need it.
Behold- how wondrous the successes of hard work and the beauty of the human spirit!
I can assure you that I am no queen, nor am I a princess. I am just a girl who purchased a plane ticket to a land far away.
And I’m telling you now, if this adventure is a mistake, then pop that crow in the oven and have it waiting when I get home. Right now, I’m packing up my mistakes with intentions of giving them to the mountains.
Right now, I’m itching for a comeback.
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