Sweat Equity

mistakes are an important part of life.

Last week, my colleague and I took a handful of students down to San Juan, Texas to work with Proyecto Azteca, a nonprofit organization that helps low-income families living in rural colonia communities along the Texas/Mexico border get adequate housing. Similar to Habitat For Humanity‘s model, the families have to help in the construction of their homes. It’s called sweat equity. The idea is that if the families want the houses, they will put in some work in order to have them and that they’ll take more pride in the house once it’s constructed because they helped build it. This pride will translate into them taking care of the house and paying off the low-interest loan (in some cases, no-interest loan).

At the same time last week, I was mulling over my life and some of the mistakes I’ve made. Now, really, calling them mistakes is just one way to look at them. I could call them lessons because I’ve learned a great deal from my mistakes but I found myself wishing that I didn’t have to learn certain things the hard way.

After a few minutes of my pity party, something occurred to me. You have to put your own sweat equity into your life. Some lessons will have to be learned the hard way so you really get it. It’s your job to grow, expand, progress…shape yourself into the person you want to be. It’s definitely not easy, but it is certainly worth it. So-called mistakes help us to clarify who we’re being, what we’re doing and how we want to be in the future. Mistakes are tools. We should use them, not lament over them.

Choose to see whatever you’ve been regretting as a guidepost to who you’d like to become and change accordingly.

March 19, 2009 | filed under consider this, moment of truth, pay attention 


5 Responses to “Sweat Equity”

  1. LaTosha Johnson on March 20th, 2009 12:36 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more! I to have been mulling over some mistakes that I have made along the way, but then I snap out of it. We all make mistakes but what really matters is what you do afterwards that counts.

    The organizations you volunteer for sounds amazing! I volunteer too so I love it when I hear others doing the same 🙂

  2. Leandra on March 20th, 2009 12:41 pm

    You hit it on the nail with it’s what you do afterwards that counts. Sometimes, it’s difficult to remember that, I suppose, but it’s just a matter of reprogramming ourselves to accept that mistakes are a part of life and they’re OKAY! You want to obviously avoid the really big ones, but…you know…do your best.

    Where do you volunteer? That was actually my first time volunteering with Proyecto Azteca. Right now, I’m actually an AmeriCorps VISTA so I’m a full-time volunteer at a school working in the Service Learning Center providing service opportunities for students on-campus. Each month, I get to do a different direct service project at least once a month in addition to the indirect service I do at the school every day.

  3. Being helpful and setting boundaries | What My World's Like on March 23rd, 2009 1:32 am

    […] you at some point in life and you rebuffed their advice. Everyone’s got to put in their own sweat equity into their lives, learn their own hard lessons. Don’t impede on the […]

  4. Alauna Fizer on March 28th, 2009 11:41 pm

    This couldn’t have been more perfect. Society trains us to be perfectionists and when our lives don’t follow that model, it becomes a quarter-life crisis. I know I’ll be fine, as the rain always sucks when you get caught in it…But when you look back at the time you got drenched because you didn’t think it was gon rain..you laugh…you’ve leaned…you’re better.:)

  5. Leandra on March 29th, 2009 12:22 am

    Alauna, you’re right. Society does expect perfection from us. One day, I noticed how my sister, mother, and I would jump all over my brother if he made a simple mistake that kids make: spilling something, dropping something, taking too long to do something. It hit me that we somehow, stupidly expected this child to be PERFECT on command purely for our convenience.

    I know this had to effect his self-esteem and how he feels about himself when he makes mistakes, and that’s such a shame because it’s how we all learn. It’s unfair to expect perfection from anyone other than ourselves. If we’re being honest with ourselves, we’ll know how frequently we fall short and know that it’s completely unrealistic to maintain that expectation of anyone else.

    Go through the rain with your head high; it’s only a moment. It never lasts forever. 🙂

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