Tag Archives: regrets

One Week Left

Exactly 7 days from now I will be ending 19 years of education. I’ve been going to school since  preschool, through kindergarten  grades 1 through 12, two years of community college and four years of University.

It’s crazy, I’ve always known this time would come, but now that it’s here I don’t know how to feel. I’ve been a full time student far too long, it’s time for me to join society. I’m really worried that this emphasis on education ahead of everything else has stunted my ability to function in the real world, but I guess we’ll find out if I’m right soon enough.

The really crazy thing for me is that it’s been four years since I started my current school in 2009. It feels like it was just a short while ago that I was moving into my dorm. I remember High-school seemed like it lasted forever, but I’ve been at my current college for just as long. It’s strange to learn for yourself everything that your elders told you, but you never understood. Some things really have to be taught by experience I guess.

I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent looking towards the future. Last semester I watched the Graduate in my film history class, and it was a real eye-opener, showing how our appreciation for art changes over time. The first time I saw the graduate I thought I understood it, but now it feels like it could be specifically about me. Except for the whole part about the ladies in his life, though I admit that could change when I go home for the summer.

Thinking back on my time one thing that really sticks out is how little choice it feels like I had. I mean, I know I had plenty of choices and oppurtunities, but it really feels like for the most part I was swept along by the current. When I think about my successes I’d say that they were mostly made possible by concious decisions on my part while many of my failures were created when I allowed myself to fall victim to my weakness and poor choices that had been made a long time ago. Life is long, small decisions turn into habits which build like snowballs until they make who we are. Right now I’m feeling the effect of the concious decision I made when I started this blog, the decision to be more mindful about my life and my choices.

I must admit that I feel regret now, regret for the bad habits I let snowball out of control. Still, what’s done is done and if we keep our heads we can learn from our mistakes and even leverage them into success. The first step is awareness, something that can be hard to come by. Life these days is so full of distractions and can be very structured, even technically good choices can lead you through a life that is outwardly successful but inwardly hollow. Just read interviews with any of the many people who left jobs that they had no passion for, that provided them with everything they’d been told they needed but didn’t really fulfill them. 

Take the time to stop and smell the roses, and think about what you really want and how you can achieve it before getting back on the road.

“Cat: Where are you going?

Alice: Which way should I go?

Cat: That depends on where you are going.

Alice: I don’t know.

Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland


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I was reading the comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal recently and came upon his comic about changing past accidents

The thing is, I actually believe “my mistakes brought me here.” This is similar to what the man in the comic says, but subtly different. The author of the comic seems to imply that people who wouldn’t change their mistakes think that mistakes are by definition good things. I would put it more like “mistakes are inevitable.” The punchline of the comic is that the man wants to change a time when he “asked out a girl through the Taco Bell drive-thru.” It’s a funny joke, but I have to say that it seems to me that if he was the type of person who thought that was a good idea, just because he didn’t do it that time he very well might do it another time. Theoretically it would be better if we learned some other way than through mistakes, but sometimes we’re just kind of dumb and have to learn that way. Sure, if we had a genie things would be better, but in the real world that’s not an option.

Besides, I think he’s making an error saying that any changes made to the past would have a trivial impact on the future. Consider the butterfly effect, small changes have the potential to build up over a long enough period. Changing an event one week ago might not have a big impact, but changing an event 10 years ago could have a huge cumulative impact.
Besides, changing the past might have a positive impact on who we are, but it would definitely change who we are around. I might wish I was a different, better person, and I’m working towards that, but if my dumb mistakes in the past brought me into contact with the people I know and love now I wouldn’t change them. Some of my deepest bonds have been built around stupid decisions I made that my friends helped me recover from.
Still, thinking back I wonder what I regret the most. I honestly would say that it isn’t the big dumb mistakes I made, it’s the little compromises I made. If I had spent more time living instead of watching from the side lines, a little more time creating than consuming, or a little more time exercising instead of sitting around I really wonder how much better my life might be right now. It’s with that in mind that I write this blog, knowing that I can’t change the past and not regretting it because I still have a life I enjoy. 
Mistakes don’t necessarily make life better, but they’re a part of life and in the interest of positivity we should look for the goods that have come out of our falls. Sure we could theoretically be living a “perfect life,” but most of the time we spend thinking about such things is completely wasted when we could be living the life that we do have. Spending a moment to think about our regrets in the interest of learning from them isn’t a bad idea, but we should move on as soon as possible in the interest of actually living in the present rather than in the past.

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