On Regrets

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There are two kinds of regrets in life. The first is regretting things you’ve done. Poor choices, words said, actions, etc.. The second is regretting all the things you never did. Regret hangs like a heavy cloud for both participants of category one and the non-participants of category two.

Regret Diagram .png

Regret can often be interpreted like a Venn-diagram with a group of people who overlap into both categories. You can see this displayed in the diagram I’ve created to the left for those who are more visually inclined.

About nine or ten years ago, I made the conscious choice not to be a part of group two anymore. I didn’t want to continue to live my life regretting all the things I didn’t say or do. To live a life in fear. “Unless it’s mad, passionate, extraordinary love, it’s a waste of your time. There are too many mediocre things in life; Love shouldn’t be one of them,” (Dream for an Insomniac, 1996). This is one of my all-time favorite quotes. I think this should be applied to everything in life it can. Life is too short to be unhappy. So, seek out the things that put a smile on your face or make your stomach flutter. Things that make you excited to get up in the morning and sad to close your eyes at night. And when you find something amazing, something that makes you happy, or someone who sparks something in you, never ignore it. These are my truths and the words I do my best to live by.

Now, for the most part, this has done me some real good. Let me make a list because sometimes I’m more visual too.

  1. I took a job where I knew no one.
  2. I adopted the attitude of try EVERYTHING once and most things twice. You don’t really know if you like something until you try it. An open mind means adventure and adventure is awesome.
  3. I lived alone for the first time. Scary as fuck at first but later after many more roommates, I realized how much I actually enjoyed it.
  4. I left a job that was eating my soul without any real plan. But it made me happy. The stars provided and I figured it out.
  5. I owned my own business. Trusting in yourself is hard. And I went in full body and head first.
  6. I sold said business. Turns out that I loved working for myself and I’m good at it. But I wasn’t partnered well and life and things get in the way. It was for the best to move on to new adventures.
  7. I road tripped 22 of the United States by myself for more than 3 months and 10,000 miles. I learned a lot about myself and my own resilience and reliability. Being alone for that long means facing a lot of those demons that are easy to bottle away. Only on the road, they break free of their glass jars and you’re forced to confront them. It was cathartic and I came back a different person than the one who left.
  8. I continued to travel a lot more with other people. Because traveling is healthy and rejuvenating. I try to do it as much as possible in a year. Too much probably. But I live in a small town and the world is a big place filled with adventure and life and people who change my outlook every day.
  9. I made a handshake deal and wrote for a book published by National Geographic. Gonna keep it in the don’t regret side, after all, experience both good and bad shape who we are and I like to think I can learn through both.
  10. I went back to school for the billionth time. Becuase why the hell not get a second Masters Degree…. oh yea, student debt… Okay.. maybe this should be on the side of regrets. I don’t know. I haven’t fully decided yet.
  11. I took a job teaching. If I owned a bookstore, I will have done everything on the list third grade me wanted to with her life: Save a life, write a book, become published, be a teacher, help people, swim in the ocean, get a drivers licenses, own a nice car, live inside my favorite book (Harry Potter World people), live a life worth writing about, have adventures, own a bookstore.
  12. I wrote my first novel. Which is wonderful and has been re-written several times and someday I hope to share it with the world. Time Travel and Aliens.
  13. I wrote my second novel. It’s not as good but has a lot of re-write potential.
  14. I wrote a third novel. I have high hopes for this one. It’s the best thing I’ve ever written and I’m actively querying now.
  15. I was published with Chicken Soup for the Soul. It was an on the whim submission because why the hell not. Sometimes we just have to try.
  16. I won a writing contest, which was also a whim submission…. maybe I should do submit more things on a whim and take this as a learning opportunity.
  17. I said and did a lot of things I would have been too scared to do years ago.
  18. I’ve tried a lot of weird food and been to odd places and all of it was worth saying yes to.

But of course, for me, it’s not the things I say yes to that I regret. It’s all the times I was too scared to say or do the things I wanted to. I was too scared of rejection to tell someone how they made me feel recently. I think in a lot of ways, it’s weighed on me. I know, I know, just tell them how you feel. Why does it have to be that way? Well, life okay. Believe me when I say, for this person, I would fight life and a hoard of zombies. I just feel like if I wasn’t alone in my feelings, and regrets, then said person would have reached out already. Maybe their thought is also life and how crazy it sounds considering how little time we’ve spent together. Or maybe it’s just that the whole life thing is hard and big in this case. And so I get it. But also, I’d fight zombies. Just saying.

So regret. It’s been on my mind. I know it’s not too late to change this current state of regret except I fear that it will swap sides on me to category one. It will swap to regretting ever saying anything at all. Ruining friendships potential and making life awkward or weird. I don’t want that. I’ve survived off friendship. Literally. The friends I have, have seen me through the roughest parts of life and I cherish real friendship. It’s not as common as you think it will be when you’re a child. It’s not common to meet people you connect with. Truly connect with. It’s so uncommon in fact, I think it’s the very root of my fear.

I will stop rambling and leave you with this quote. “The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.” – Meg Cabot.

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