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6 mistakes you need to make at least once.

Maybe the road to success is paved with mistakes.

6 mistakes you need to make at least once.

You can’t achieve perfection. You can’t even fool the rest of the world into thinking you have.

Instead, getting somewhere — getting anywhere — in life is about going through a process of experimenting, making mistakes, learning, and improving.

If you try to get around that process, the only thing that happens is you become completely wound up in yourself and you fail to improve your work, your product, or your creative skills.


I’ve learned over the last 15 years that success in life isn’t best measured by what you achieve. It’s measured by what you overcome. For me, that has meant overcoming the sheer weight of my own mistakes.

If you pretend that you don’t make mistakes, you lose the chance to do remarkable things.

Instead, you’ll spend your time doing safe things. So celebrate your mistakes. Don’t glorify them — but look at them as chips that can be cashed in for future success.

All photos via Redd Angelo, used with permission.

Here are six mistakes I think you almost have to make to be successful and fulfilled in life:

1. Trust the wrong people.

When you’re starting out, you want to be a trusting person. Start out optimistic, open-minded, and free. Don’t be too quick to judge because you’ll be basing that judgment on zero data.

By trusting everyone, you’re going to end up trusting the wrong people. This just happens, because the world is full of crappy types who want to screw you over and take everything you’ve got.

This is going to teach you who is actually worth trusting in the future. It will give you the information you need to make informed and valuable choices around who is worth trusting and who is not worth your time. Trust the wrong people because it’s one of the only ways to end up trusting the right ones.

2. Screw up your finances.

Everyone should make at least one bad financial decision. This is something I truly believe. There’s just something about that moment of realization, when it hits you that you’ve made a truly terrible mistake with your money, that can sober you up for life.

My mistake? Debt. $10,000 worth of credit card debt, racked up funding software development. That’s something you can’t just shrug off or think away with positive thoughts. That’s something that wakes you up sweating and panicking.

I’m on my way out of that. Well on my way. It’s a mistake I can’t see myself making again, and it’s a mistake I know I’ve learned from.

3. Choose a bad career path.

I love it when people tell me they started out on a career, founded a company, designed something, and then quit when they realized it wasn’t for them. How brave is that? To be able to admit that you walked the wrong path and take the time to switch?

I think one of the only ways to know what you really want to do is to try a whole bunch of things and learn what it feels like when you’re doing the right one. That gives you the knowledge you need to make a better choice.

Choosing a bad career path sucks, and it can feel like a huge setback. I’ve done it enough times to know that when you’re right in the middle of it, you will feel like a failure. Don’t look on it as a waste of time. Trust me, it’s not.

4. Make selfish decisions.

When you’re young, you’re selfish. This isn’t an indictment of millennials — I am one. The fact is, we are taught empathy throughout our formative years, but it’s not a skill that can be learned in the abstract. Empathy is something that can only be picked up with hands-on experience.

And that means you’re going to make selfish decisions. Maybe you’ll screw over the co-founder of your start-up. Choose money over your family. Break up with a person who trusted you, in the worst possible way. I’ve done all of that.

Seeing the impact of those selfish choices breaks you. In little ways, in big ways. It changes the way you see other people. If you’re lucky, it stops you from being able to pretend that everyone else in the world is a non-player-character in a game.

5. Take the easy way out.

It’s so hard not to do this. It’s so hard not to take the easy way out when you know how much simpler it will make your life. And when you haven’t been burned, it’s hard to see a reason why you shouldn’t try to shift the blame or do a half-assed job.

But do it once, and you should learn something: Taking the easy way out will often come back to bite you. You will likely regret it. Quality will suffer, your reputation will suffer, and your own experience of it may even be terrible.

“Don’t do anything by half. If you love someone, love them with all your soul. When you go to work, work your ass off. When you hate someone, hate them until it hurts.” — Henry Rollins

6. Work too hard.

I see this from would-be start-up founders and artists and writers every day. They talk about hustling 18 hours a day. They tell you they’ve worked every weekend, every night. They buy into the fallacy that letting your work rule every waking moment is the only way to be successful.

“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

“It’s all part of the hustle.”

“You can start up or rest. You can’t do both.”

This is all a complete fabrication. It’s been propagated by the insane work schedules of a small percentage of billionaire founders and visionary creatives who were able to function on a fraction of sleep every night.

They are the exception. You are the rule. If you choose to work too hard once and you burn out, that’s an awesome opportunity to learn. But you have to learn from it. You have to learn that trying to maintain that level of skewed work-life balance is rarely going to work for you.

One of the guiding forces in my life has been my ability to screw up completely, get back on my feet, and keep on swinging.

Did I shut down a creative services agency because I had zero idea of how to run a business? Absolutely. Did I get completely ripped off by a former business partner and end up massively in debt? I won’t deny it.

Did I drop out of law school and fail to accomplish anything more meaningful than binge-watching TV for seven months? That checks out.

But the unifying theme behind every mistake I’ve made is that no matter how long it took, I learned something. I took something home. I gained valuable information about myself, my challenges, and my path.

So screw up once in a while. Hell, screw up every day! And take something from those mistakes, because in my book, messing up is a quicker road to success and satisfaction than being perfect every day of the week.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."