Look back on your blunders and laugh…life’s not perfect!
As long as I have lived, I have made many blunders which I feel is just part of my life’s journey.
Some blunders are funny, some are hurtful but I think that on hindsight, they are kind of amusing now.
Way before I joined Toastmasters International to hone my public speaking skills, I was really bad at speaking. I was really an Ah Lian , a term in Spore that refers to the Chinese girls who do not speak proper English and dress quite oddly. By the way, my name has a ‘Lian’ in it and I was an awkward teenager. I did not know how to lapse into proper English at the right time.
One time, someone told me , ‘Hey! Do you know that so and so is getting married?!’ And silly me as a naive youth exclaimed, “hah! confirmed ah?!Confirmed? ” That was a ‘shortcut’ way of saying, “Really, is that so?” People laughed at my strange way of talking.
Native speakers may not understand this response as it is a typical Singlish way of speaking ( Singlish is Sporean English and this came about as there are many languages and dialects in Singapore resulting in the adulteration of Standard English. Yes, I could have responded more appropriately but I blundered unknowingly then.
Foreigners often looked puzzled when some Singaporeans speak but locals understand each other perfectly. When I sent my children to a boarding school in Melbourne, the Auzzie kids used to tell them, “ Speak English please!” But they were speaking English. It took them at least a term to understand my children’s brand and accent of English.
It was much later that I began to realize I needed effective communication skills not just for clarity but to gain respect and self confidence.
As a young dentist, I still blundered mindlessly. At a dental conference, I bumped into my fellow dentist who was my lady lecturer during my student days. She used to be very sweet and slim but I forgot that she was already in her forties and she had gotten fat. I went up to congratulate her on her new pregnancy! She was aghast at my suggestion. On realizing that, I excused myself quickly and badgered myself over my impulsiveness and insensitivity.
As a matured dentist, I committed faux pas often as well. There was this lovely Japanese couple who came for their regular dental checkup. But there was one year his wife had passed away. He came alone and told us the bad news. I expressed my condolences and did the dental treatment solemnly.
Then six months later, he came for check up again and I asked about his wife. When he told me that his wife had passed away, I apologized for my forgetfulness.
Another six months later during his check up, I asked about his wife yet again. Meanwhile, my dental assistant gesticulated madly behind the dental chair with the treatment card that was marked in red ‘ do not ask about wife!’ She even made hand signal behind the patient to indicate that she had passed on. I apologized profusely to my patient. Subsequently, I swore never to stray from the subject of dentistry again.
Actually my husband blunders often too. One time, he went to his old friend’s father’s wake. They talked about old times and reminisced a lot. Then suddenly, my husband said, “Hey! I have not met your father for a long time! How is he?!” To that, his friend then pointed to the casket . Realizing his mistake, they all had a good laugh.
But some incidents were not so amusing and actually caused stress. Once, I was hosted by a couple in Canada in their opulent home. The next morning, in my enthusiasm to maintain the guest room in a pristine condition, I made the room and started with the toilet.
So I first flushed the toilet bowl but it was slow to run water. I flushed twice more consecutively. To my horror, the toilet bowl started to well up with more water and it did not stop! Soon, it overflowed. I panicked when I thought how meticulous my lady friend was. I watched helplessly as water overflowed onto the wooden bathroom floor. It started to inch towards the carpeted room!
I grabbed all the towels I could find, soaked up as much water as I could while shouting for my friend and divine intervention. Thank Goodness, the water stopped short of the carpeted room!
Later, I apologized abundantly to my friend very much to her displeasure, I was sure. I told myself to slow my pace of doing things. Apparently, pace of life is so slow in Canada, the water system also responded slowly.
Life is full of silly mistakes but as long as there are lessons drawn from them and cause us to change for the better and become more mindful, they are contributing to our personal growth. I have also learned to forgive myself for my unintentional mistakes in the same way as I would forgive those who committed innocent faux pas against me.