This morning I was still half asleep and throwing in some laundry when I started thinking about regrets. I am on the precipice of turning thirty-five and while I’m not exactly where I would have thought I’d be at this point in my life, I’m feeling ok about where I am. In general, I don’t really believe in regrets. It’s such a negative standpoint from which to look back and view your own previous choices.
Then I started thinking that if I am ever to regret anything, it’s the things I haven’t done versus the things I have. For example, I was married for four years and it didn’t end well (for that fact that it ended at all, you can probably infer that it didn’t end well; if it were good, I’d still be married). However, I don’t regret my marriage or the relationship I had with my ex because it all brought me to where I am now. When I look back at other relationships I’ve had or mistakes I’ve made, no matter how unfortunate or embarrassing, I still can honestly say I’m glad I made them. Don’t get me wrong, the distance of time and hindsight certainly helps me say that. But I honestly believe that every choice you make shapes who you become, whether good or bad. If you can learn from the mistakes, all the better.
What scares me a bit are the things I haven’t done or haven’t yet been brave enough to tackle. If I decide not to have children, will I look back and regret that decision when I’m fifty and doting on a poodle or other lap dog as if it were a child? Or when I’m eighty and sitting by myself in a nursing home with no one who loves me enough to wipe the drool off my chin? Beyond the big life decisions, there are the every day occurances in which I often lack the courage to speak up and ask for exactly what I want. In the end, I will have no one to blame but myself for those. And that is what would be truly regrettable.