What’s your biggest regret in life thus far?
When my close friend asked me that my heart sank leaving my chest feeling hollow and my eyes glazed over focused on the moment I wished I hadn’t taken my brother’s life for granted. It was 5 am in January of 2010 — I don’t remember the day I just know it was before the 10th — when I was headed back to college for my second semester. As my mother came to see me off, my brother was sound asleep. She asked me if I wanted to say goodbye to Jacob before I left and I thought meh he’ll probably shoo me away and wipe off my kisses, he always hated when I woke him up even on Christmas. So I after staring at his door for a moment I declined and said “nah it’s okay I’ll see him later.” Oh how I long for that last groaning shoo away and stank morning breath, instead my mind replays me looking at his door not knowing that was the last time he’d be on the other side of it.
I refuse to pass on something as simple as opening the door ever again.
I still cry about this. I took me 10 minutes to write that out because my tears were competing for attention. The hardest part about regret is that it doesn’t go away. I will never not regret that decision but on the other hand, I’ve watched it fuel me.
Well for one I never leave without hugging or saying goodbye to people I love and two I refuse to pass on something as simple as opening the door ever again.
It was 8 years later, after having a still birth, getting a divorce, losing my job, and selling my house, that I realized the greatest pain is that feeling of regret. What I can’t imagine is having that crippling feeling about my entire life when I get to the end. I got glimpse of this as I watched my grandma’s eyes glaze over as her lips quivered when she talked to me about life. She’s almost 90 and as she looks back over what she can remember the one thing she couldn’t get over is the fact that she doesn’t have any more time. She spoke about the things she wished she had done. The lump that formed in the back of her throat was subdued with every drink of ginger ale. She drank ginger ale a lot in that conversation with every regret of non action she had I understood the the pain she felt on the inside. Seeing that amount of pain through my grandma’s eyes scared me shitless. By the end of our conversation my she looked at me and said don’t worry about what you’ve been through baby, you’re so young you have so much time. With her being from a COMPLETELY different generation she was mainly talking about the time I had to find a man haha but I took it a bit further. I realized she’s right I have time to find myself and if I don’t take action after having this conversation, I will have that familiar feeling of regret. The feeling of all I had to do was walk through the door. I can’t imagine getting to the end of my life going back over all of the doors I chose not to walk through, too afraid to walk through or was too distracted to even notice.
This period spent with ourselves has surely opened our eyes to some things within we we may not want to uncover but it’s the uncovering that we need to really define the lives we want to live. I’m being incredibly vulnerable with you all today because I’ve realized that in order to live without regret we have to be vulnerable with ourselves. We must look back on our lives and see the things that have impacted and changed our lives and use those experiences to define where we are trying to go and who we are meant to be.
So here’s your homework, yup this week you got homework. Hell, I just did the work of really opening up, being vulnerable and coming clean about never letting my guard down so you gon’ do some work too!
Divide your life up into decades for each decade try to think of 3–5 triumphs, 3–5 defeats and what you took away from those experiences. In the end make note of any patterns you see whether it be with your relationships, maybe some trauma, what have you been consistently good at etc. Then I want to you to think of a time that really opened your eyes about life. Like my conversation with my grandma. Maybe you haven’t had yours yet, maybe this is it, either way write all of this down.
Now, go back over your story look at the big moments that have shaped you into who you are. Revel in the fact that no one’s story looks like yours. Take the big experiences and patterns to recognize the theme. This may be the theme of your life… you may also say maaan fuck this theme I’m tired of this theme. Either way you’ve done the work and now you’re at the point where you can make the decision to either use your story to propel you into the life you want or do nothing at all. You are the writer of your story you decide where you want to go. Are you going to life your life or live with regret? Will you walk through the door or turn away assuming that what’s on the other side will always be there?