Shatu Mshelia Written by Shatu Mshelia · 2 min read >


I had, had a “eureka” moment that had led to my newfound courage; the decision that I am not afraid to make a mistake because, being wrong is not so big a deal! Yes, it was a conscious decision that I took as a result of merely some inner reflection. No event of some cosmic importance impacted this. In fact, it must have been a very uneventful day like many others. Seeing as, I do not recall other memories other than that which incited this inspiration.


For some reason, I remember going through a mental catalog of subjects and courses I had taken so far, through the course of my life’s academic experience (at least, the ones I could recall). When, it suddenly dawned on me that most of them had theories embedded in the core of their study. Furthermore, there was usually more than one theory on every given topic. In most cases, as I remember, each new theory was born out of the findings of another researcher different from the previous.


All of these theories were a product of long hours of research and as such; considered scholarly. Consequently, most of these researchers were honored by being awarded the prestigious “Nobel Prize” award. The logical impact of this should be that most of these findings which led to worldwide theories should be indisputable, correct? However, we often find out that it was not so. We see that, these findings were not only being built upon by subsequent researchers but, some were deemed insufficient and even somewhat discarded at other times as they were nullified by the new findings.


For example; Cannon-Bard debunked James-Lange’s theory of emotion but they still go down in history as views worthy of study with their credibility, unscathed. In fact, Schachter and Singer later come up with a theory that draws from both the Cannon-Bard and James-Lange’s theories and the list goes on and on across many fields of study.

This was where it hit me. If such effort could be so easily displaced by another especially, after receiving such mass acceptance then, why must I bother myself with having to be correct with every utterance over every topic of discussion? I am not trying to trivialize credibility, the importance of being correct or ensuring one’s speech boosts rather than retards one’s competence rating. However, I am not a fan of anyone never contributing for the fear of being seen as deficient. To hold back to such an extent is more detrimental than it is even helpful. I believe, it even plays into the saying; “A closed mouth is a closed destiny.”


Wanting the world to trust our every utterance because we set a blameless record is a good vision but, in my opinion, totally unattainable. As humans, we are fallible as our nature presents us with multiple biases. Why expend energy trying to paint a perfect picture when art in itself is full of blotches?

Being afraid to make a mistake is that sort of pressure that could stifle a lot of growth. It should never be about right or wrong all the time. Thinking this way makes us too careful, we end up always trying to hold on to our ‘dignity’. Again, I approve that we must be mindful of utterances. So, we do not present ourselves as, incompetent or just fools who spew out words whenever we get a chance.z owever, a balance is necessary in order not to become dormant participants in the world for the fear that, “I may make a mistake”.


Ultimately, sound reasoning is key and, I believe that entails not holding back for the fear of being wrong but, being able to think about a subject, assessing if I have anything worthy of my audience’s attention without under or overthinking it, and then expressing it in an acceptable way that my audience can relate with. “I am not afraid to make a mistake,” does not mean I throw all caution to the wind but simply, deciding and defining the caution I chose to hold on to.


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