In my mid to late teens, I was having an argument with my mother about cupcakes.
It’s not really important what the argument was about, but the gist of it is that, in response to her telling me not to eat another cupcake, I took one and shoved the entire thing in my mouth at once while maintaining eye contact with her.
You can call that what you will—rebellious, ridiculous, amusing, or just plain stupid—but I can’t deny that the cupcake still tasted delicious.
I knew then, and I still know now, that my mother was only looking out for me, that she had my best interests at heart, and that her goal was not to restrict or oppress me in any way, but merely to keep me healthy. And yet I still ate that cupcake in one bite. In public. At an event.
The reason for this was that, although we both agreed that health was important, I did not see it as much of a risk. Teenagers are known for being reckless; although I was never really one to flirt with danger, the part of my brain that motivates me to pursue more long-term goals was not (and is not) yet fully formed. I did not see the risks the same way she did.
The second reason I ate that cupcake is because I want to make my own mistakes.
It sounds kind of stupid. Who wants to make mistakes? But I can point out many times in my life when I was warned against something, did it anyway, and ended up with the exact consequences that had been predicted by the person (usually a parent) had warned me.
This may seem like straight-up insanity, but the truth of the matter is that the best way to learn is through your own experience, and not secondhand experience. I prefer to test my own limits and make my own mistakes, because then it’ll stick out in my head far more the next time I consider doing something stupid.
The right time to make mistakes is when you’re young. That’s when it’s socially acceptable and most easily reversible. That’s when you’re healthiest and most energetic. If you get injured, you’re more likely to recover fully, and you will also recover more quickly. If you stumble…