An examination of one of your greatest enemies.
Homelessness. It almost became my reality a month ago when my lease was about to terminate and I couldn’t afford the rent for the starting lease.
Phone calls went unanswered, texts were ignored, and my voicemails echoed in silence. I was getting help from no one. This was the end of my journey.
How did I get here?
It started with my cryptopreneur ventures and my zealous pursuit of early retirement earlier this year. I did business with a company operating overseas, a company I fully trusted as did many others. I worked with the company, putting in paycheck after paycheck, using credit cards for living expenses. Out went the savings and down went the checking balance. Up went the credit balances. This was going to work.
Until of course, it didn’t. The company bailed out of their business dealings, leaving me and plenty of others scrambling, not having a clue as to what happened. I lost all my money, all those paychecks I so carelessly and recklessly spent, and I was left with no savings and a bunch of credit card balances that demanded payment. I had little to no money to my name.
Slowly but painfully, I did my best to recover, as at least I was still on a payroll. And then in May, I unexpectedly lost my job, and my next one suffered from work shortage. I was out of work for two weeks, and the reminder to scrape enough for rent was still ringing in my ears.
“You’re late on rent!” squawked Responsibility. “What’s your excuse this time?”
“I’m sorry,” I whispered as I dipped my head. “I have many late payments on these credit cards and I have to pay them back. I have to pay for my water, rice, and cereal that I eat once a day too, and–”
“Enough!” Responsibility barked. “If only you had been responsible with your money in the first place, you would never be in this position.”
The voice was right…If only…
I finally did it.
I picked up the courage to walk up to that cute girl standing by herself.
Be confident, calm, and collected, I reminded myself.
Of course I turned out to be completely off my “game.” I sounded lame, I stumbled, and I unknowingly put her on a pedestal. The lady got to have her giggles for the day and walked away.
Or what about that time I actually pulled this off?
Clean introduction, nice and steady conversation, and then I got the number. We texted back and forth for a while and hung out a couple times. When I finally let my feelings be known, this is what happened.
“Hey Chelsea,” I said. “I feel like we’ve really clicked together in a lot of ways. We get along really well and I feel like we could be something more than friends. Would you like to go out on a date with me?”
“Oh Lucas,” she sighed. “I’m sorry, I just don’t feel the same way. You’ve been a really great friend and I’d like to stay friends though!”
“Oh, I see,” I stammered. “I guess–”
“O-hoy!” Romance barged in. “What have we here, Lucas? Another lady turned you down again?”
The last word stung. “What of it to you?” I retorted. “I gave it a shot, so what?”
“Boy, you never learn your lesson do you?” Romance mocked. “You established yourself as a friend. You played your cards all wrong every time you met. There was no chemistry! If only your performance played according to my rules, maybe she’d be yours today.”
This voice was also correct, in retrospect…If only…
We stood before the long line of a rollercoaster ride. I looked up in horror to see all the twists and turns that the riders put themselves through.
“Hey Lucas!” Josh nudged me. “Are you going to join us on the ride or not?”
“Mmm, I don’t think so,” I sheepishly conceded. “I don’t like rollercoasters much. They’re honestly a bit frightening for me.”
“It’ll be fun,” called Mark. “Come with us this once and if you don’t like it, we won’t do anymore without you.”
“I appreciate it Mark, but I believe I’ll pass.”
My friends shrugged and went on.
A long wait later, my friends came off, laughing while tears went down their faces.
“Hahaha that was a blast!” they said. “You better join us on the next one!”
I didn’t. I simply watched as my friends went on a few more rides, each one looking scarier than the last. I couldn’t.
But what if I could? What if I did?
Well now, the answers to those questions could only be speculated. I didn’t have too much fun for the rest of that day. I was only left with one thought before I sadly went to sleep:
Everyone’s got them at some point. If you don’t, then you’ve lived a perfect life where everything has gone right, and that scenario applies to nobody.
Somewhere along the way on this journey of life, you are guaranteed to look back at certain events and wish they had gone one way or another besides the path that they took in reality.
If only I didn’t look like a klutz by spilling my lunch all over myself and hurt my social status. Now I’m a loser.
If only I went to the party that everyone else went to. I would have had fun and made more friends.
If only I dated the girl of my dreams who wanted me. Because of my fear of failure and rejection, I am now single.
The sad truth of life that everybody has to face is that you are going to experience what is known as regret.
What really sucks about mistakes and wrong turns is that you don’t know what’s gone wrong until after it has already happened. You only see your mistakes after you’ve made them, not before. If you saw that you were going to make a mistake beforehand, you would do what you could in your control to prevent it so as to achieve the best possible outcome. Obviously, the best possible outcome doesn’t come every single time because as previously mentioned, that scenario applies to no one.
If only this life you’re living was a draft and not the final, published version.
If only your life was written in erasable ink and not permanent marker.
If only life had a rewind button, where you could undo your past mistakes and live that dream life.
But there is no “Play Again?” option, and as I’m sure as you already know, such is life.
Making mistakes is a painful truth all have to embrace and learn to live with, whether we want to or not.
What makes the difference, however, is how you look at things moving forward.
Let’s lay out the facts. The past is in the past, and there’s nothing you can do to change it. History cannot be rewritten.
However, the good news is, history is, to an extent, in your control.
You may not be able to scribble off your mistakes the first time around, so what can you do? Are you going to make the same mistakes over and over, or are you going to sit back, evaluate yourself, realize that changes need to be made, and then make those changes so that you can progress and develop?
As I’ve said before, everybody’s going to have regrets whether they want to or not. To feel and experience regret is natural, so don’t look at it like there’s something wrong with you. No, you’re completely fine. In fact, it’s great that you look at your actions and want something to have been better. It shows that you want to hold yourself to the best that you can be and that you’re not comfortable letting life slip on by with a sub-par outcome. You want to make a stand and say, “Hey life, things shouldn’t have turned out this way.”
Now what follows should be you saying, “And I’m not going to let it happen again.”
It’s rather unproductive to dwell on the mistakes and regrets of the past. It’ll eat you up inside like a parasite. Your stumbles and acknowledgment thereof will gnaw on your bones. Well, my friend, this is unhealthy and it’s best if you fight it.
You already know you can’t change history; what’s done is what’s done. As previously mentioned, however, you still have your shot at creating and shaping the future, to an extent, to what will work better for you. There are written pages behind you, but you have many blank ones ahead of you. Whether you choose to make the same punctuation and grammar mistakes as you did on your previous pages or not is up to you.
You don’t want to? Good. Start by recognizing what went wrong the first time around and tackle those problems. You may not even get it right the second time, but by now you know that what’s done is what’s done and that dwelling on the second mistake won’t get you anywhere. You’re going to examine the second trip-up and tackle its problems. Trial and error as many times as you need to.
Take careful notice of what’s going wrong, learn from your mistakes, and most importantly, don’t give up.
A proverb I’d like to throw in is this: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
You’ll have regrets, but if you keep on doing the same things that led up to what gave you regrets, you’ll only have more of the same regrets. You have to pay attention and learn from your mistakes. Keep writing on those pages. You’ll discover a lot about yourself along the way, and your growth won’t stop. With each passing day, you’ll become a better, smarter, and wiser individual.
So in conclusion, don’t ignore your regrets. Dissect them and use your past mistakes to create a better and brighter future than your past self had. Don’t let the feeling of regret take control of you. Know when it’s there, and know how to master it. Always remember to be in control.