You’ve heard it: “I don’t have any regrets because the things I’ve done have led me to this point.” “I regret nothing.” “I don’t like to live with regret or focus on my mistakes.”
I can remember being fairly young when I first called bullshit on this line of thinking, maybe even in elementary school. My kid-thoughts went something like this: “why wouldn’t you regret your mistakes? THEY’RE MISTAKES.” I realize mistakes have value and that the logic behind this ‘no regrets!’ anthem is to not melt into a life where you wallow in the coulda shoulda stuff of your past. But to claim that your life is regretless because it has led to this moment says that you are ideal at this moment and that you could not have been made better by different choices along the way. It’s one thing to be ‘in a good place’ with yourself, but another to feel like you simply couldn’t be any better or have made wiser choices along the way. So I still agree with kid-me: there are things worth regretting.
I regret letting Racquel cut my hair that one time and not speaking up when she started in on the sides.
I regret that I’m the kind of person who doesn’t want to hurt a semi-stranger’s feelings, so I’ll hurt my own self-image for the 7 billion months it takes to grow out a pixie cut.
I regret that I rudely rebuffed the overweight neighbor kid when he asked to be my friend. His forwardness and his appearance embarrassed me, and I was unkind.
I regret taking 4 years of Spanish in high school. It was a waste of time and energy.
I regret never taking a dance class. I think I could’ve really enjoyed it and maybe gained some self-esteem.
I regret every time I’ve texted while driving.
I regret not telling my grandfather that he was marvelous and delightful.
I regret the perm, even if it was the early 90s.
I regret everything about that directed study on the apostle Paul that the Jeffs and I did senior year. I regret taking a grade I didn’t earn, and sacrificing my integrity.
I regret a lot about the fall of 2001 in general.
I regret my lack of moderation after Matt and Andrea’s wedding. It would’ve been nice to spend time with my friends instead of the hotel toilet bowl.
I regret the way I’ve voted in the past. (I’m sorry, gays.)
I regret not putting in the discipline to stop chewing my nails once and for all.
I regret thinking that I had to finish college in 8 consecutive semesters at the same institution, lest I be cast out of civilized society forever.
I regret spending even 2 seconds reading Wuthering Heights, even if my Literary Criticism grade depended on it.
I regret taking so long to try lipstick.
I regret not re-carpeting my house the day I moved in.
I regret not flossing more.
I regret not telling that one friend that she was arrogant and destructive. We might still be friends if I had.
I regret buying so, so many clothing items that were rad but slightly too small.
I regret the stories and poems I crafted in my head but was too lazy to get out of bed and jot down.
I regret a trillion things lost to laziness.
I regret not believing those who believed in me when I was younger.
I regret eating at that Chili’s in Chicago. That was stupid.
I regret not planting trees in my yard 5 years ago.
I regret shouting at my crying baby last week.
I regret a trillion hours of bad television.
I regret not telling that youth pastor that she was hurtful and wrong about why I was sad.
I regret relying too long on gin and tonics as a go-to drink in social situations.
I regret every occasion of green eyeshadow.
I regret feeling guilty about not liking certain people, and thinking I had to enjoy and identify with everyone.
I regret being afraid to like certain people who I could have loved.
I regret taking so long to discover my introversion.
I regret that I stopped taking piano lessons. I coulda been a contender.
The list could go on, but then I’d be wallowing, wouldn’t I? That would be regretful.