When, other than while we’re at University, are we supposed make mistakes? Learning from our mistakes is supposed to be a fundamental part of ‘growing up’, and yet, when exactly are we supposed to do this? Throughout school we’re constantly told that everything matters, particularly if we want to end up somewhere as estimable as Oxford, but when we arrive here everything is then taken far more seriously.
Recently the Oxford University Officer Training Corps (OTC) decided that it would be a excellent idea to host a ‘Zulu’ themed party, prompting various members of the public to write to us highlighting their disgust at this poor judgement. While in rather poor taste, and arguably with minimal tact, is this really newsworthy? No one blacked up (finally understood to be offensive), there was no unexpectedly bad behaviour and yet this lack of consideration and tact, at one point in our week, was thought to deserve the front page of this newspaper. Should people not be able to host private parties with whatever theme they choose, as long as they are prepared to accept the consequences, whatever they may be?
Of all the times in life, when is better than our University years to make the mistakes we need to? Who hasn’t woken up in the morning thinking ‘Oh no’, or just as frequently ‘I definitely don’t remember that…’?
Undoubtedly Oxford offers students fabulous opportunities, both academically and extra-curricularly, but are these not taken far too seriously by some? Maybe what we need is a little more lighthearted fun today, rather than an unhealthy obsession with tomorrow and where we’re all climbing to next. The Union is just the Union, student plays are just student plays; will another coffee with that one ‘genuinely important’ person really make or break your future? Unlikely.
The same goes for the media; it seems to be increasingly revelling in other people’s misfortune, rarely for anything that resembles a ‘public interest’ argument. Everyone is waiting on tenderhooks hoping that someone, hopefully ‘The Next Big Thing’ will make a truly awful mistake that can be villified and publicised. And not because its a fundamentally awful thing, but purely because ‘They’ve messed up, and I haven’t’, rather than a more serious concern with the other’s actions. The OTC party is just one example of this – poor taste or questionable judgement doesn’t always equal fundamentally wrong.
Considering these mistakes we will all undoubtedly make; if every action we do can be publicised through the media or facebook, leaving a permanent mark that can forever be googled, what are we, as the bright young things of tomorrow, supposed to do?
Perhaps we need to become a little more forgiving; to accept that everyone makes mistakes, especially when at University. (No one’s going to forget Clinton’s ‘I did not inhale’ for a while yet.) Embrace it, laugh about it, and learn from them. And shouldn’t we make some mistakes?
If we aren’t making mistakes, if things don’t go wrong every once in a while, we’re not really pushing boundaries, trying new things, and hopefully, just occasionally, learning from them.