I Vote Against Regrets

Komal Vachhani
5 min readJun 18, 2022

I used to love telling myself I hold zero regrets. But telling myself that didn’t make it true. I did have regrets. Ironically, I regretted wasting the time I spent regretting the things that were out of my control.

However, Mark Manson has taught me better than to fall into a Feedback Loop from Hell. If you even half enjoy my blog, chances are that you’ll LOVE his books (granted he is a way better writer than I am, and holds more wisdom in his little finger than I do in my entire body). If you’re not familiar with what a Feedback Loop from Hell is, it’s the one concept that put everything I’ve ever felt in the realm of anxiety into words. Manson says it best,

“[…]You’re so worried about doing the right thing all the time that you become worried about how much you’re worrying. Or you feel guilty for every mistake you make that you begin to feel guilty about how guilty you’re feeling. Or you get sad and alone so often that it makes you feel even more sad and alone just thinking about it. Welcome to The Feedback Loop from Hell. Chances are you’ve engaged in it more than a few times. Maybe you are engaging in it right now[…]”.
— Mark Manson

He also adds that it’s a fascinating feeling to be able to think about thinking. Using his analogy, what I’m doing is — trying to break out of the loop of regretting things and then wasting more time regretting the time I wasted regretting things. Read that again if you have to, it took me a couple of attempts to type it out too. A little mindception for you, if you will.

Although having no regrets is my mantra, I still struggle with finding reasons how in the name of hell some life events could ever benefit me. Failing an exam, getting rejected from a job, having my parents disappointed in me, etc. Gazing at these events at surface level, they suck. They really suck.

The key idea behind this is realizing that just because you don’t see positive outcomes for something right away, doesn’t mean it won’t come back for your betterment a few weeks, months, or even years from now.

A couple of weeks ago, I worked at the polling station for our provincial elections. Working elections had been a part of my “Multiple Careers” bucket list for a while now. A blog post for that seemingly “crazy” idea (as I’ve been told) is still in the works, but it refers to my idea of living as many lives in one as I can, while still maintaining my integrity and honouring each responsibility. Oh, of course, having fun and meeting cool people in the process.

Anyways, going back to the story of the elections, my role as a “standby” came around very last minute. This means that I’d be required to come in on polling day, stay for a couple of hours, and if needed, I’d stay for longer. Long story short, I was required to stay longer than expected, but I wasn’t too mad about it. The crowd was slow and I had already befriended the other nine individuals I was working with. Honestly, I probably would felt more FOMO if I had left (and missed out on free iced coffee).

On that day, we actually had a lot of downtime, so I made my rounds, talking to everyone. But there’s one specific woman I conversed with, in her mid-20s that really stuck with me.

We talked about how crazy things in life worked out. More specifically regrets that ironically created special byproducts that she wouldn’t have gained otherwise. She helped me look at the things I regret in a different light. For instance, I mentioned to her that I wish I had spent more time being a kid than taking on so many responsibilities at a young age. Everything becomes 10 times more serious as an adult. I wish that I let myself get away with more. And truly, it WAS my biggest regret for a really long time.

To that, she had to say,

“Would you be where you are today without your hard work from the past? Would you rather be on the flip side where you regret not doing enough? One side brings you to where you are now, and the other has missed opportunities that you can’t do anything about anymore. You’re moving forward knowing that you did the best you could and I’m really proud of you for that.”
— Super Kind Lady Working at the Polling Station

This woman. In the span of minutes, she made me reconsider the many years of guilt I held within myself. We had a lot more of these discussions throughout the day and I’m so convinced that fate brought her to me, and this event made me an even stronger believer in the fact that everything happens for a reason. Her purpose in my life was to tell me that and make me think. That’s what I loved most about the conversations with her. She would ask me questions, not for answers, but to prompt me to reflect. It sounds so corny, but dude. It was beautiful.

She is soon getting married to the love of her life, so congrats to her. I think I (accidentally) jokingly invited myself to her wedding. Note to self: NEVER do that again. Wedding planning is hard enough without having a stranger invite themselves to it. To say this poor sweet woman was stressed is an understatement. 😆

Another category of regrets that I once held inside me was sourced from peer/parental/societal validation.

I would (and still regrettably do sometimes) ask my friends/parents what they would do in certain scenarios and follow their exact advice. I held those opinions at such a high stake and regardless of what the inner me believed, I went along with it. And the rare occasions I didn’t, and something went wrong — or worse, they disapproved of my decision — I felt immediate guilt.

It’s important to note that not everyone will always support every decision you make. And the reason for that is really simple. It’s your decision. Not theirs. This shouldn’t make you regret the judgments that you chose to make. While it is valid to ask for other peoples’ opinions, it’s always going to come back to you because you have your best interests at heart. No matter what they say, there will be a layer of bias in their opinions and for you to trust them blindly would be naïve. I learned the hard way, that not everyone will want the best for you, so believe in yourself and stop regretting your own verdicts. The fruits will find you one day. Chomp on cucumber for now. Or chips.

Be your own cheerleader and celebrate every win. Don’t regret doing things just because someone did it before you, or faster than you. As long as you learn from it, it’s never a waste.

Recognize the beauty in everyday things, for if you had done something differently yesterday, those same things wouldn’t be there today. 🌸

Komal

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Komal Vachhani

Hey, I’m Komal. I like to put my thoughts on life into writing to reflect on later. Follow along for growth and more learnings!