Photo credit: Kindly used with permission from Masque Photography.
I'VE made so many mistakes in my life, I've lost count.
I've cried so many times, I'm amazed I have any tears left. But yet I still wouldn't change any of it for the world.
Here are my ten greatest mistakes, that I've made as a woman (to date) and all that they have taught me.
1) Confusing lust with love
I lay the blame firmly at my groin's door. For the confusion, the agony and the unsuitable men.
I once thought lust was a sign of true love. But now I know that the butterflies, the fast beating heart, the sweaty palms and the nerves, whilst totally delicious and intoxicating are not signs of love. But of infatuation. Giddiness. And of lust.
And while all of these do have a place in a love story, these signs alone, do not mean it's the real deal.
2) Thinking I could change people
That bad boy I thought I could tame? I couldn't. The man who abused me, that I thought I could love to a healthier place? I couldn't. The friend I hoped I could save? I couldn't.
Some people do change but most people don't. So save your efforts for those who want to change and let the ones who don't, get on with things themselves.
3) Not appreciating my worth
People treat us as we treat ourselves. I used to think this was a load of baloney, but guess what, it's turned out to be true.
You have to appreciate your own worth, know your value and refuse anything less than to be treated the way you deserve, for others to treat you well.
4) Thinking I wasn't good enough
Oh how wrong I was. Because guess what? I totally am. And so are you.
5) Hanging on to people for too long
Throughout my life I have given people too many chances, listened to too many apologies and stayed around for far too long.
People show us who they are, all the time, through their actions and words. The red flags and the flashing lights are all there for us to see if we pay attention.
If people hurt you once, forgive them. If people hurt you twice, be cautious. If people hurt you again, ditch them.
Sometimes - no matter how much you love someone - you have to save yourself.
6) Caring too much about what other people think
When I was 11 years old, I went up to 'big school' and immediately gave up playing the violin because I was frightened of being disliked by my peers.
A classic mistake. And a stupid one too because we have less control over people's feelings and opinions about us, than we think.
You cannot make people like you and you sure as hell, cannot make people love you. So forget about what other's think and just concentrate on being yourself.
7) Failing to live up to my own potential
I used to think I didn't apply myself properly because I didn't need to or because I was lazy. But now as an adult I know the truth.
I was s**t scared. Scared of realising my potential. Scared of achieving something greater.
The comfort zone appeals to us because it's warmer and safer.
But here lies too many broken dreams. The only way to succeed in life is get out there and face your fears.
8) Thinking other people were my responsibility
It's a heavy weight to bear when you're carrying other people's burdens and expectations. When you feel like someone else's happiness is your responsibility.
But bar being a parent and being responsible for your children, no one else's happiness is our cross to bear.
9) Not realising that dreams can come true
Freelancing changed my life. Because for the first time ever, it made me realise how much control I have of my own destiny.
When I first started nearly five years I was terrified. But making my own money, finding my own work and achieving success in my own right, has been liberating and life changing. Absolutely, a dream come true.
10) Thinking my mistakes would ruin my life
When I was 18, I stayed in an abusive relationship for so long, that I lost part of my soul. When I was 27, I thought I'd ruined my career. And when I was 34, I made the mistake of believing someone and ignoring their actions.
Yet, I am happy.
Our mistakes can often take us to the pits of despair and force us down on our knees, but if there's one thing I have learned from all of them, it is this.
More often than not, our mistakes are the very making of us. If, we allow them to be.