What Writing About Regret Showed Me
It seems to evoke strong emotions in readers and bring subtle fears to the surface.
The article being received so well really got me thinking. Of course, getting it published in a larger publication helps to get exposure. It increases the chances of getting your writing read in the first place, especially if you haven’t built up a substantial audience of your own yet.
Your 20s are seen as a defining decade. The decade where you build a foundation of your life and where you make important decisions that affect you years thereafter. What (and if) to study, where, how to strategically map out those first few jobs that bump your career into prosperity, success, and status — if a career is something you want.
We want this decade to be perfectly defined so that we’ll later have a perfect, shiny story to tell. But life is whimsical, not perfect. Each of us gets crap to deal with that might throw us off course, or into a completely different direction than we thought we’d end up going in.
Decisions made by past-you are irreversible. Whether you like what happened or not, the past cannot be undone. I think that is what gives regret such a sour aftertaste. People fear it like tooth decay. I hear you thinking while reading those articles about regret, “yeah, that won’t happen to me because I’m going to be cautious and responsible with my life”.
It strokes our egos to brag about the big wins. To have the humbled peasants bow down at our feet, cheer our names in unity, and look up at us in awe. Writing about failures takes some courage. It’s admitting you’re not perfect. Admitting you’re less successful than you’d like others to see you. It’s choosing to skip the polished showreel we hope makes strangers on the internet sick with envy.
It’s never too late to change course. You can offset what you did to yourself in earlier years. For example, if you are a nicotine addict who has now finally decided to kick this bad habit, you can start by reducing your daily cigarette intake, and eventually replace your ciggies with nicotine plasters. You could start tracking in a notebook where and when you most want to grab a cigarette to bring awareness to your triggers to avoid them. Instead of holding a cigarette, you could always put an object in your “smoking hand”, so it won’t feel as though “something is missing”. There probably is some damage done, financially for sure (this habit has a price tag), but that doesn’t mean you should make it worse, or not try to get rid of it because you already failed at quitting so many times in the past. The future holds prospects for a different outcome.
Regret can hurt. Reading about other people’s regrets is a hard prompt to stop putting your own plans on hold.
It’s why I will keep reading about other people’s experiences in that regard. To nudge me to get back to work, build out a life I can be proud of, and ultimately, prevent the sour feeling of not having done as much as I could and wanted.
My 20s Are Over — These Are My 11 Regrets
Don’t postpone that dream or idea for sometime in the future.