“One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself.” – Shannon L. Alder
Along with the benefits of growing older, the wisdom that comes with the myriad of life experiences… there are times in one’s life that one may become consumed with regresa, or at the very léase si der “what if” or “Shoulda, coulda, woulda”… It happens to most of us at some point and often at a time in our lives where maybe we thought we’d be in a different place or space and that things would have turned out differently..
Who comes to mind when I think of living life to the full and often referring to her “no regrets” policy, is my grandmother Mildred. She often used to quote from this poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox…a poem written in 1917 and one I believe still stands true today.. at least for me:
Throw overboard toil misdirected,
Throw overboard ill-advised hope,
With aims which, your soul has detected,
Have self as their centre and scope.
Throw overboard useless regretting
For deeds which you cannot undo,
And learn the great art of forgetting
Old things which embitter the new. – Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1917)
I sometimes look back at the choices I made throughout my life… be them studies, career paths, relationships, travels, friendships, passions etc etc.. I am often filled with joy and confirmation that the choices I made were the right ones for me at the time. There’s a certain sense of relief too, if I’m honest!
So today, on weekend in October of 2016, en route back to Mexico City from Denver Colorado after having visited with my closest friends, I can honestly say that I have few regrets. Albeit there are one or two tiny niggling ones that I’m still tending to, as I’m almost sure they are connected to societal expectations.. Being a woman.
I’ve tried not to shy away from challenging situations.. That said, I am by no means a dare devil and jumping out of a plane is not featured anywhere near my bucket list! However, I can look back over the past 18 years since I moved out of Ireland permanently, at that time to Stockholm Sweden, and I can remember the moments where fear played huge role and at times delayed my taking a decision.. I can see now that I was not in fact ready to make those decisions, get them a foreign work contract, getting out of a dysfunctional relationship, standing up to pressures from society and those I put on myself..
One of the few regrets I have is not speaking up sooner on occasions. Specifically on occasions where I know that had I spoken up the outcome would have been more favourable and the process less laboured.. Fear played a small part of course but naivety and trusting those I shouldn’t have also played its part.
I can think of one occasion in my life where I knew on a intuitive level that things were not right for me and I didn’t say anything.. The situation, needless to mention, dragged out long after it needed to. Since then, I’ve tested this theory and proven time and time again that, although sometimes considered inopportune or rocking the proverbial boat, it is ALWAYS best to be honest and clear. Diplomatically of course 🙂
One of the other regrets I have, as many of us have I feel, is that I trusted someone who betrayed me… And on this occasion it qualifies as a prett big regret on my part, as I was given clear enough signals and I consciously chose to ignore them.
So why a short blog about regret right now… Well I’ve come to a point in my life where I look back and once in a while wonder what if… Thankfully I don’t dwell on it or stay there too long… But what if I had never decided to move out of Ireland, back in 1998. What if I’d actually believed my French teacher when she bullied me into thinking I was no good at languages and decided I didn’t want to learn any! What if I continued eating meat, been afraid of pursuing a career in the arts and alternative health .. What if I’d said no again to the second round offer of a job on a cruise ship… Well that one reminds me that had it not been for cruiseships I would not be in Mexico City for one and I’d never have learned this third language I’ve always wanted to learn -SPANISH!
I was reminded of some of this over the past few days, as I visiting with my best mate, his husband and their three year old daughter… We had the chance, as we try to do every time we met up, to check in with each other and in doing so, providing us with a suitable opportunity to have a review over the past couple of years as well as a general overview and broader perspective from someone who knows us early two decades.
We all have to find our way in life and along that road are moments of indecisiveness and what ifs! So while chatting to my best mate, he pointed out to me, one or two of those what ifs I voiced to him in the past. Someone who sees us through the highs and lows as well as some huge changes both personally and professionally in our lives, whose opinion we respect and trust, someone who’s never shown anything other that support and love over the extent of our friendship…
So upon concluding my visit and arriving and Denver airport to fly back to Mexico City, my now home.. I am once again assured that I’m in the right place and I’ve had the chance to step out of my everyday routine with a trust worthy sounding board,in order to realise that I’ve done ok and that I’m on the right path 🙂
I’m really really glad I didn’t base my life path, career and personal choices on too much fear. There’s pin t in saying it was always fearless, but a lot less fear driven decision making and more acknowledging the fear, facing it and working through what needed to be done.
I didn’t arrive at where I am today because I conceded to society’s pressures (too many to mention being a woman!).. I made my own choices, for the most part, based on what I felt was right at the time on a intuitive / gut feeling level!
One of the quotes I found, that I especially like is “never regret, what once made you happy”.. And this is so true. Jobs, relationships… If we were happy (and I mean truly happy) at one point, then it wasn’t a total failure or waste if time and therefore doesn’t warrant any huge regret!
Hindsight is of course 20/20 vision as the saying goes… Had I the knowledge I have now back when I was making some big life decisions, I may have chosen differently, but that of course is never the case.
We live, we learn, we grow, we change, we adapt, we move, we connect, we express.
Well, at least those are my thoughts as I reflect on REGRET this sunny afternoon….. As I fly at 32,000ft en route to Houston Texas.
Let me know your thoughts on regret. I’d love to read them in the comments section below!
– Louise 🙂