We carry a lot of guilt.

We obsess over things we said days ago to people who might have been able to make a difference in our lives if only we had said something else instead.

We feel guilty for taking a day off work because hard work is the only way we achieve our dreams, and then feel guilty for working every single day because it causes us to miss the tenderness of everyday life.

We feel guilty for not doing more to bring positive change to the world, and we feel guilty for thinking that we could ever even have a chance to do that.

We feel guilty for being who we are, who we were, who we want to be, who we might become, and for who we won’t.

The easy thing to do is say: “Fuck it, you’re young. Go enjoy life and do what makes you happy.” Haven’t we all heard that before? So, in a burst of inspiration, we chase those lofty goals: Apply for grad school at that institution we’d be proud to attend, send our resumes to companies that seemed out of reach just a few days ago, reach out to old acquaintances we wish we were more like.

Then the responses come back: There were too many other, more qualified and deserving candidates; there just wasn’t a strong culture fit; it’s a busy time — try me next year.

That’s OK, though: Going to school would have really put us back more years than it would have brought us forward, our jobs are actually really quite good and we should feel grateful for being there when there are others struggling to find work, and our current friends are great people who would be there for us no matter what.

We feel guilty for even thinking about wanting more. What makes us so special that we thought we could beat the odds? How could we be so ungrateful for thinking that what we have isn’t enough?

But then again, nobody ever won a game they weren’t playing…