I can’t remember now when I heard these words or who said them to me, but I specifically remember someone saying to me:
well…I just don’t want you to regret it
Those words, even now when I cannot place them, even now when I don’t remember the struggle, those words make me angry. This monster-under-the-bed that is regret makes me hot with anger and prickle with fear.
Sometimes regret is personal, it’s a wish that you had done something differently. I regret spending so much of my time in college hating college instead of changing my situation. I regret putting off the relationship talk with Boyfriend for
almost four years a really long time. I regret waiting until I was 22 to start running.
I also acknowledge that those regrets are just small pieces me. They are emotions tied to unchangeable bits of my life, a life that I love and wouldn’t change anything about. My regrets made my life imperfect but if I went back and changed things, I might change me.
What bothers me about regret is that, largely, it isn’t just personal regret, it’s not about growth or memories. I feel bombarded with messages that if I don’t go out tonight, I’ll regret it or if I eat that piece of pizza, I’ll regret it or if I don’t take every opportunity and fill up every moment of rest, I’ll regret it.
That, my friends, is not about personal growth or your life story, that is about disappointing other people, that is fearing what others will think of you.
Part of why I didn’t go home when I was miserable during my Peace Corps service, a large part, is that I was terrified that after years of hyping up this big adventure I was going on, I’d have to go home and tell everyone I failed. I was fortunate in that my moments of misery were typically overshadowed by better moments, but I knew a lot of people who it didn’t work out that way for. They either chose to go home early or they stayed and they were miserable. I can honestly say I pity the latter much more.
Staying miserable in something just to save face is terrible. In essence, it’s sacrificing your happiness for your reputation. And yet, it happens all the time, simply because of what we’re calling regret.
What’s the message? Becca, what is it?
Regret things, regret the things you missed or the stupid things you did because they weren’t the right things for you. Acknowledge them and then move forward.
Stop being afraid of what you might regret and listen to what your body, mind and soul are really telling you. They will always be there, no matter your reputation, so they are the only ones you must impress.
Best of luck.