How Old is Too Old to Make a Mistake?





So let me begin this by saying that this is not a confessional.  I know, it’d be great to hear a mistake story about me, but I can’t tell one.  Clearly, I’ve never made a mistake.

However, I was reading Reddit today (as I will many times when I reach a full 2 seconds of boredom), and I stumbled across a story of a high school senior kicked out of school for having a bong in his car.  Was that his best move?  No, obviously it wasn’t.  This particular senior had supposedly just gotten into Auburn University, and was 4 weeks from graduating.  You’re probably thinking what I’m thinking: What a shame.  Also, shame on you if you were thinking about what happened to the bong.  I’m sure it’s safe.

Many comments flooded into the post advising the now former student that all was not lost.  He’s young.  He can take community college classes after getting a GED, and get into a university in the future.  All he must do is continue to work hard and never lose hope.  Kids make mistakes.  There’s still time, etc.

But, at what point do mistakes turn in to “you should have known better” or “you’re too old to be screwing up like this.”  A lot of times, sometimes in a courtroom setting, young people are given opportunities that older people are not granted.  They get a “break” so to speak.  For the most part I agree with this sentiment, as making mistakes is part of growing up.  But what gets me is the flip side of the coin, where making a mistake can be crushing at an older age.  There isn’t the same focus on the hope for the future if you’ve reached a certain age, which I think culturally is probably around 30 (I’m currently trying to move back this age since I’ll be 30 this year).

This morning I listened to an interview between Howard Stern and Tom Sizemore.  If you don’t know Tom Sizemore…you do.  Just look him up (Heat, Saving Private Ryan, etc.).  Tom got into drugs quite a bit, spiraled out of control, went to prison, got sober, relapsed, and got sober again.  He currently has a book out, “By Some Miracle I Made It Out of There.”  He talked in the interview of his hope for a second act in life, similar to Robert Downey Jr.’s career reformation.  He seems to still have hope for that.  He made many mistakes, and he’s 51 now, but he wants another chance.  There are many examples like Tom Sizemore.  Families, communities, the criminal justice system, they’re all flooded with examples.

I guess my rambling point is that mistakes aren’t only made by the young.  They’re made by everyone, at many different ages.  The focus needs to always be on moving forward and helping the person who made the mistake make a different choice in the future.  Don’t only spread disappointment, spread hope too.  There isn’t an age when you’re too old to make a mistake.  Unless of course you’re Anthony Weiner…then you should know better than to send a picture of your penis.  Your last name is “Weiner” for God’s sake.  So ends this rant.

Also, listen to Schmorgascast #53, it’s right to your right in the blog, or on iTunes or your podcast catcher!


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