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Mistakes and How You May or May Not Learn From Them
The single choice.
The arrogant reassurance that everything will be fine.
The collision, dust kicking up from the road.
Shards of crystalized glass, pouring down like a rainstorm.
That single thought encasing their mind, hopelessness.
And then . . . darkness.
Things can be different; the end can’t exist without the beginning. Every decision, subconsciously or consciously made, alters you somehow. It could be a miniscule change, or it can be world-shaking; it can be for the good, or it could be for the worse. It all depends on when you make the choice. That is, the right choice.
For my brother, it was too late. One moment of arrogant reassurance took his life on a different course than any of us expected—or hoped for, really. And I remember it; I remember it all. I remember feeling the need to pray for the safety of those I loved. I remember going to sleep without a care in the world, only for my mom to wake me and my sister up in the middle of the night so we could drive up to Virginia.
That’s where it happened . . . a place I had always associated with happiness. And now . . .
I remember it being the fastest road trip I had ever taken. I also remember it being the longest.
I remember not really knowing what was going on. All I knew was that this situation I had no knowledge of made my mom so evidently . . . sad. And that made me sad. But that was nothing like what I felt when I finally understood. I remember being confused. Why would something like this ever happen? He was so young, so carefree. He was my brother.
I remember the hospital and the nurses. I remember the machines that had temporarily become a part of him, keeping him alive. I remember crying as his closed eyes peered up at me. I wonder, looking back at it, if this is where he had been speaking to angels in spirit as we gazed at his body. Most of all, I remember gazing at his chest—rising, falling—and thinking that my prayer had been answered. I remember silence embracing me, and then . . . heartbeats.
Rising, falling . . .
“Mom, what . . . happened?” I remember asking weeks later.
“He ran a stop sign into oncoming traffic . . . he was drunk driving.”
Now for another’s story.
He was one of the closest friends I ever had—still is, too. We were connected through our unlikely friendship, but we lived in completely separate worlds. For him, high school was the epitome of utopia—for me, it was the antithesis. I had moved to Maryland from California, and my mindset was different from these unfamiliar people surrounding me.
I didn’t exactly fit in.
He lived there since elementary school. He was athletic and outgoing and handsome and accepting. It puzzled me, really; he did everything in his power to gain his own acceptance. From the very people he called friends. Yeah, right. Some friends.
He told me at church—as if being around spiritual paintings would be incentive for me to control my anger. It wasn’t. I glared at him in all my enraged disappointment with my root beer eyes. He stared back in confusion—it was obvious to me that he wasn’t expecting me to react this way. Knowing him he probably thought I’d shrug it off like that morning’s snowfall and laugh the way he was laughing.
But I didn’t see what was so funny.
To him, what he did was a good old riot. But all I could see when I looked at him was his body in a hospital bed, hooked up to machines that were keeping him alive—like my brother. I told him all about my brother in hopes that he could see the danger in what he was doing. It was difficult to recount such hardships and it stung when he regarded my brother’s story with indifference. I talked to church leaders who, in turn, talked to him. He thought I was being nosy and overbearing. I thought I was being a good friend, unlike the ‘friends’ encouraging this.
The worst was that I was in the process of moving. Although my family and I both hated where we lived and couldn’t wait to get away, I couldn’t shake the feeling that if I left his actions would only grow more . . . well, stupid. Who would he have to tell him to stop?
A year later after I moved he told me his mom found out. He told me he felt like the worst son in the world. And, although I felt bad for my friend who was now perpetually grounded, I couldn’t help but feel a little relieved. He had told me that his parents were getting stricter, which meant he wasn’t going to parties anymore . . . which meant that no one would be passing him any alcohol. But that moment of hope was crushed when he quickly stated that he’d “just pick it up again in college.”
Although my brother never had the chance to learn from his mistakes before tragedy hit and my friend is determined to ignore my brother’s experience, I was able to take away from it. I have no tolerance for alcohol now. Not in the slightest. Also, this entire experience helped me realize how observant I am. I can only hope that others can be just as aware of other’s experiences as me. Even if it’s good to learn from your own mistakes . . . there are some mistakes that you can’t come back from. And how can you learn then?