Do you have any regrets? I was recently asked. And, of course, I thought, “OF COURSE!” But then, as I was running this morning, I thought about my four regrets and while I would advise someone to maybe do differently than I did in all four areas, what I realized is that because of three of these choices, my life turned out exactly as it should have. So, regrets, yeah, I have them, maybe, but only because I would tell SOMEONE ELSE to do what I say here and not what I did.
REGRET # 1 NOT STUDYING ABROAD FOR A SEMESTER OR SCHOOL YEAR
Here is the one regret that I would like a complete do-over on. Seriously, every reason I had for not studying abroad I can now look at as not nearly as good as the experience of studying abroad would have been for me. My biggest hold-up at the time was that I was designing a major in a special program at my college and assigned myself 5 more classes than I needed for my major while also pursing teaching certification which meant that I needed to be ready to graduate a semester early so my final semester could be spent student teaching. And so, with all of my academic pressures, I didn’t study abroad. Now, I see that I could have just assigned less classes to my major and gone for a semester. But the overachiever in me was full effect in college and couldn’t see that solution. Boy, did I miss the experience of a lifetime.
Did you study abroad? Where did you go? What did you most learn about yourself during that time?
REGRET #2 STARTING MY CAREER IMMEDIATELY
When I graduated from college, I knew one thing. I wanted to be a career high school teacher. I imagined that I would be dragged kicking and screaming out of my classroom in forty years, my administrators telling me I had to retire now because everything was technology-based and I’d never learned how to do anything on a computer but word process. And so when the high school where I did my student teaching offered me a job– and this was the place where I most wanted to be– I said yes and started my high school teaching career that fall. Let me be clear, I LOVED this work. It might still be my favorite thing I’ve ever done. It was such important work; it played to my strengths; I was crazy about my kids (who I called my Cute Ones) and I really, really grew and settled into myself during those years I spent teaching. The entire trajectory of my life is rooted in those teaching years. So I wouldn’t change this decision. But if I am talking to Happy one day about his plans, I will encourage him to not take himself SO seriously at 22, to not feel like he has to start the rest of his life as soon as he crosses that stage and gets his BS or BA degree or whatever. I will tell him to go do something that year that he might not ever be able to do again in his life.
As for me, I wish that I had done the Peace Corps or- left turn here- traveled as a roadie with one of the many bands that I had spent my college years getting to know as the concert chair on my campus. Clearly, if I had done these things, my life would have taken a different trajectory so I am happy with the path I found, but I still think it’s not so necessary to start official life immediately after college graduation (watch, I will flip out when Happy wants to be a roadie at 22).
What did you do immediately after high school or college graduation? Was it the right call? Knowing what you know now, would you change your decision?
REGRET #3 BE LESS SCARED TO MAKE MEMORIES
A lot of times, people’s regrets are about the choices they did make. Because of how I was in the world, most of my regrets are about the choices I didn’t make and so they fall into this “be less scared to make memories” category.
First, a back story: In college, a dear friend from home came to pick me up for break. Erich and I were incredibly close, and we could go heady and philosophical with each other pretty quickly and without any fear. As we drove home, I told him about this crush I had and detailed the exchanges I had had with this guy, trying to parse whether or not the affection was mutual. Erich thought I was naive, that it’s mutuality had clearly been exhibited, and, he surmised, this guy I had a crush on was probably waiting to see if I wanted more but because I operated in such a veiled way, we were both still in limbo and things would probably fade away without becoming anything.
“If you keep acting the way you are acting, Rosie, you will only have regrets in your life. You will not have created any memories.”
Very wise friend I had there, though it took me a long to change my behaviors. I spent a lot of my life afraid of what I’d get myself into when, really, I had everything in me that I needed to keep myself safe if I needed to do so. Life didn’t have to be so scary and I wish I’d taken a few more chances. That said, the choices I made led me here so it worked out in the end.
Were you scared to make memories when you were young or were you willing to test things out and see where they lead you? Is there a favorite chance you took?
REGRET #4 NOT ADOPTING 2 CHILDREN AT ONCE
Let’s be honest here. This regret is born from feeling overwhelmed by the logistics of possibly adopting again now that we already have a child at home who has needs that we need to be deliberate about in our actions, choices, and decisions. I know family comes to you the way that it is supposed to so the reason why it never occurred to us to adopt a second child when we were undergoing adoption # 1 is that our second child- if we were meant to have a second one- wasn’t yet ready for us. So, logistically, it would have been easier to create our family all at once but emotionally I know that wasn’t what was intended for our family so this is less a regret than just a thought. Hence, I always throw that idea out to other families when they come to me to talk adoption in case it might be the right possibility for their family.
How about you? Do you have any big or small regrets? Do you have any things, like me, that you would tell someone else to do differently but you are pretty happy with how things turned out? What life lessons would you share with someone asking you about regrets, risks, chances, and memories?