I’ve never quite understood how someone can live their life and claim to have no regrets. Perhaps it’s more of a statement about how they’d never change a thing that brought them to where they are in life—which, actually, I get. I’d never want to go back and redesign my life to bring me somewhere else. But I do have things I regret. Big things, little things. Some are inconsequential and I have no idea why they linger in my memories. Others are a bit more heavy, and stay put no matter how much I try to get over my guilt complex. Either way, they’re there. And I’m not ashamed to admit that there are things in my life that I consider to be regrets.
The little things are certainly ridiculous, and don’t really matter now, but somehow they stick out in my mind no matter how many years pass.
I regret yelling at my best friend on the playground in third grade, just so I could look tough in front of the “cool girls”. I regret ever buying off-brand boxed macaroni and cheese, those high-heels that cost $60 but were so uncomfortable I only wore them once, a haircut from GreatClips without specifying NO LAYERS FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, or american cheese that cost only $1. I regret kissing the boy without much of a neck, and going on a date with a guy who seemed to have a mild foot fetish. I regret trading in my impossibly-small (yet beloved) Scion to get an even more impossibly-small Yaris. I regret ever thinking opening a Formspring account, owning a cat in a one-bedroom apartment, or getting a Mystic Tan were even remotely good ideas.
The big things are a bit different, though. They have actually affected my life more than a lunch that included a plasticky grilled cheese sandwich, or the twelve days during which I had skin the color of Snooki. They are the ones that give me that achy feeling that, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to ever lessen.
I regret ever hiring a wedding photographer or getting short-term health insurance without doing my research. I regret losing touch with nearly all my close friends back home after moving to California. I regret the times I’ve fallen silent when it comes to my beliefs, my fears, my faith. I regret not talking to one of my sisters for more than six months because I didn’t know what to say, and didn’t know what to do, and didn’t know how to handle a situation I had no control over. I regret being mean to her as a kid, in typical older-sister fashion. I regret not talking with my dad as much as I talked with my mom when I was growing up. I regret that night at a friend’s party when I got so drunk I ended up saying a bunch of ridiculous things, acting completely and utterly unlike myself, hurting the feelings of my best friend, and falling asleep on a pillow in the hallway. In fact, I regret most of the times I’ve had too much to drink. I regret an impulsive, accusatory (and hormonal) email I sent when I was pregnant and lonely and frustrated. I regret all the comparing I’ve done between my body and someone else’s, between my marriage and the relationships of those around me, between what I own and what other people are lucky enough to have.
When it comes down to it, I realize all these moments may have been important—necessary, even—when it comes to the life I now know. But, still. They’re there, and I’m not necessarily proud of them. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have regrets. In my life, I think they’ve shown me how much I’ve grown, learned, changed. They keep me accountable and also make me realize how being flawed and awkward and incredibly imperfect is okay.
It’s just a matter of getting past those feelings of regret, or shame, or embarrassment. Regardless of my acceptance and understanding of all the things I’ve said and done, I continue to feel the resulting emotions. And that is the real struggle for me.