My Favorite Mistake. ~ Khaleelah Jones

Via elephant journal
on Jan 19, 2012
get elephant's newsletter
Hannah Swithinbank

I used to be a person who compulsively made lists, plans and backup plans. If Plan A fell through, I was sure to have a Plan B, C and D.

My daily planner was more marked up than pre-surgery Heidi Montag. Checking something off my ‘To Do’ list was literally a triumphant experience that could make or break my entire day. My feelings about what I was doing, when I would do it and how it was being done were not a consideration. Feelings led to decisions. Decisions led to mistakes. Mistakes were not an option.

Decisions are so loaded; choose wrong and all of a sudden you’ve made a mistake that illustrates to everyone that you’re fallible. When you live such a systematized, regulated lifestyle, it is difficult to make many mistakes — you don’t have time to do anything random or make impulsive decisions that could go horribly wrong — and if there is one thing I hate, it’s making the wrong decision and having to live with the consequences.

Making a mistake might not be a big deal to most people, but perfection was — and still is, to an extent — important to me, and very integrated into my self-concept. I couldn’t even fathom what people would think of me if I made a mistake, not to mention how I would cope living with the consequences of them.


While this lifestyle might work for some people, I can safely say that I felt as if I lived in a pressure cooker.

Not a day went by that I didn’t question whether I was doing what I really wanted to do or just what my lists and plans dictated I do. Thus, when I moved to London last year to continue my education, I promised myself one thing: I would not live my life according to lists and contingency plans.

Instead, I would make decisions based on the scariest criteria possible: my feelings.

In the past six months, my structured, controlled world has spiraled out of control and I find myself, perfectionist that I am, making more mistakes and missteps than I ever have in my life. I’ve given myself the breathing space to make more decisions, which is incredibly empowering, but, concurrently, I’ve also opened myself up to the world of error, imperfection and well, as stupid as it might sound, really being human and dealing with all of those confusing feelings that get us into trouble.

Still, despite the mounting evidence (as if I really needed any) that decisions based on feelings often lead to unsuccessful, awkward, strange and sometimes painful situations, I have consistently leaped off a cliff in an act of faith or stupidity — I still can’t yet tell which — but that I would have thought impossible even a year ago.

I’m not yet sure if once I’m back home next year, I’ll live without lists and plans (I’ll certainly have to decide soon!); it’s been really difficult having to handle the fallout of so many mistakes. However, I’m so glad that I’ve had the opportunity to show myself that I am not made of porcelain and that I can handle falling every once in a while. Sure, I might be chipped and a little worse for wear, but I’ve found that nothing can really break me permanently.

By far, my resolution to feel my way into my decisions has been my favorite mistake.


Known as the girl who could talk herself out of a paper bag, Khaleelah Jones ( has always loved sharing her voice with others. An avid fan of reading, anything Francophone, travel and dance, you can usually find Khaleelah gazing longingly at travel blogs or in the yoga studio. Khaleelah currently lives in London working as a freelance writer and yoga teacher.




About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive.


7 Responses to “My Favorite Mistake. ~ Khaleelah Jones”

  1. Aella says:

    Good for you! I was girl who had everything. I had every contingency, and everything anyone could need except the kitchen sink in my purse(it weighed over 10lbs at one point). I was, and still am, like that a bit. I didn't make the list on paper EVERY day, but I did in my head. I am now able to make decisions better, I am taking risks, unfathomable before, and things fall into place perfectly. Not all good things come from this, but so far I am happier, and more peaceful. I still have a guideline in my mind, but it is fluid. I can change it, without a mental tantrum and possible aneurysm. The plan is still good, just different. I realized other people's plans might be good too especially in addition to mine. I found guides are nice to give a direction, after that go with how it feels.

  2. Khaleelah says:

    I agree Aella! Plans should be guides, not do-or-die laws! Thanks for reading my article and Namaste!

  3. Kate H. says:

    K! I just discovered this website the other day, and now I see my former roommate with a post! Girl, you know I can totally relate to the obsessive list-making. I am inspired by your courage to make the leap. bisous, Kate

  4. Kelly says:

    I can relate to this article. I set four alarms in the morning just because I am paranoid that one won't go off and I could be late. Also, I definitely need to learn to be more open to following my feelings. Very inspiring article, thanks for the reminder!

  5. […] of them have made me stronger, but some have just made me sad because of the pain they’ve caused and because of my own […]

  6. […] From a certain perspective, there is no such thing as a mistake. […]