A queen taught me one of the most important lessons I have learned:
“Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.” – Ms. Frizzle
In the real world, that’s exactly how the field of science — Ms. Frizzle’s area of expertise in “The Magic School Bus” series — evolves.
“The Magic School Bus” is the epitome of learning and growth. Ms. Frizzle encourages her students to throw themselves out there and explore, whether it be shrinking down to the size of an atom to look at chemical bonds or learning to play the trumpet.
Ms. Frizzle tells her kids this: challenge convention, test your ideas, and don’t be afraid to fail. Failure and grit push science forward. As a scientist, these words make perfect sense to me. But as a human being, these words are both terrifying and exhilarating.
Blunders come in all sizes. They range from screwing up a problem set to ruining a relationship. The same word can refer to wildly different levels of impact, but it all boils down to the same thing.
You messed up. You’ll grow from every mistake you make, whether it’s a minuscule detail or a life-changer. You move on, trying to avoid the next snafu, but mistakes are unavoidable.
You won’t get the full experience if you’re afraid of getting a little mud on your Sunday best. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t take a chance. If I had shielded myself from the idea of consequence. If I didn’t accept where I went wrong. If I wasn’t scared of getting messy, ripping my clothes, scraping my knees, and all the little nicks and bumps I’ve collected along the way, physically and emotionally.
This is why I love taking risks, allowing slip-ups, and getting dirty. “Intentional mistakes” is an oxymoron. Ms. Frizzle isn’t saying to make a mistake, but to accept your mistakes. Some mistakes will lay you out on your back or give you a black eye. Be accountable for them, own them.
Ms. Frizzle embodies the true experience of growth and learning. It’s not clean and it’s not pretty. You fail a lot. Accept the failure, brush the dirt off your shoulders, and get back up. Learning is experimental, and there is no right way to do it. Getting an A in class may mean that you know how to take a test, to study well, and do the problems, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you learned anything. It may just mean you played the game right.
In the scope of college, you don’t attain a high GPA, top-tier internships, graduate schools, medical schools, and your dream job through perfection. The next time you fail a test, approach a problem incorrectly, or get a letter grade lower than you wanted on your paper, you will grow. That growth will give you the strength to accept the possibility of failure — to break out of your glass room of caution and acknowledge that you may break something.
While we can’t ride on a sassy school bus that endangers the welfare of minors, we can get onto a different yellow bus that also has an endless amount of field trips. The magic school bus of life. We can take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.
Seat belts everyone!