I don’t know whether to laugh or get mad when somebody says that they have no regrets. I laugh because I know they do not mean it and are probably concealing a lifetime of regret. But sometimes I get mad at them because of their brash approaches. Anyone who has a mindset of having “no ragrets” (to quote the meme) is willing to go forth and conquer the mountain of life. If you have no real things to risk except your conveniences, you should absolutely have this mentality. It is why I decided to move, after all. I am risking many conveniences attempting to establish location independent income, and I do not intend to regret it.
Many associate regrets with risks and chances that were not taken. While this is true, the opposite cannot be denied. If you take a big risk or chance, and it is not calculated, you will regret it, perhaps even until your dying day. I for one have made bad decisions like this, and am still regretting them to this day. And because this blog is dedicated to all of my journeys as well as my past, I have no shame exploring my bad decisions and analyzing them.
So that’s what this article will be about: It will be about each and every major regret I’ve had for as far back as I can remember. This will be an abridged chapter of sorts in my book that I intend to finish in July, so consider this a cliffnotes version. I will also do what I can to target the action that I took rather than targeting the action I did not take, as that is usually how bad decisions are made: You sacrifice one decision for another. Whether we are aware of it or not, we make decisions pretty much all the time. Bad decisions are no exception.
I will also resist the temptation to place infinite hindsight of these decisions. What I mean by that is when I go back into the past to explore these decisions, I won’t see too far into the future from when I made the decision. This is how regrets can drive people insane, because you truly do not know what you do not know. Analyzing past decisions is not an exception.
With all of that being said, here we go.
Regret #1: Ditching bowling for baseball in my youth
I can still remember the first 200 game in bowling I ever shot. I was 12 or something. I averaged about 130 or so in a travel league of sorts during junior high. It would be ten whole years until I bowled in a league again. I gave up bowling and attempted (and failed) to take up baseball instead. I say it to pretty much everybody I know: If I bowled competitively in my adolescence through my teen years, the chances are really good that I would either be a legitimate professional bowler, or would get a lifelong injury from bowling or something.
Regret #2: Passing up obvious opportunities with the opposite sex until 23 or so
Come on. Did you really think you’d come across an article that didn’t involve something with crush culture or the high school mentality? Both of those concepts robbed me of all kinds of really solid opportunities with the opposite sex. What many do not understand is that in my high school years, I was being approached by girls. I had a massive chip on my shoulder, and would say edgy things. This gave me charisma that I did not know I had. But because I was so obsessed with the increased value of possibly being with a cheerleader (high school mentality) and my thought that one solitary girl could bring me happiness (crush culture), I passed up obvious opportunities that would have given me a nice head start in my DSR (Dating, Sex, Relationship) experience. Instead, I wasted roughly a decade of my life foolishly attempting to seek the approval of a girl who, all things considered, probably wouldn’t even care to shrug if she found out that I died.
Regret #3: Addressing the horsemen of my apocalypse the way I did
This will be covered in great detail in my book, but for now I will gloss over what my thought processes were when I experienced these unfortunate events. And if you want the full story (which, again, will be in my book) on each event, you can click the links. Long story short, I developed an extremely cynical and nihilistic outlook on things as a way of acting out in response to these things. When I was taken advantage of sexually, I decided to deny it for five years, only deciding to tell others about it because my peers began talking about sex a lot. One thing I want anybody reading these words to understand is that it is not only okay, but necessary to seek out support if unfortunate and traumatic events have happened to you. Because I did not do this, I acted out, and it would take me until the age of 30 or so to really start addressing the things that damaged my self esteem, knowledge of self, and faith in a better future to the core.
Regret #4: Taking a better paying job in my 20s over the current low stress job that I had
When I was 23 or so, I took a job doing random paperwork at a financial services office. It was one of the most relaxed job I ever took. My day consisted of me walking around handing out files to people, and then going into the mailroom and organizing said files. They had an “honor system” of sorts where you could just stop whatever you were doing at any given time and go get something to eat or drink. You came in at 8 in the morning and left at 4 in the afternoon, but the time in between was completely up to you to use. A few months after taking that job, I left it for a job that paid more, but was much more stressful. Had I stayed at the original job, who knows how much happier I would have been.
Regret #5: Taking too little time off college, and going to college without a real purpose
I took two significant time periods off of college. The first period was from 2005-2007, where I was taking care of my father for one year, and living off of his savings and taking a year off of everything with another. The other period was from 2011-2014, where I took out so much money in student loans that I was prevented from taking out any more (it was a very weak suicide attempt), that I physically did not have enough money to keep going. Nearly everything I have done involving college entails some sort of regret.
I regret nearly every minute of college in my 20s because I had zero purpose for going. When he was alive, I did it to impress my father. And when I went back, I did not care about what classes I took and all I really wanted to do answer the litany of “what if” questions I had regarding college bowling by finishing my college bowling career. It was a concept I call “toxic curiosity” personified. In my darkest hours, my late 20s, I would take out the maximum amount of student loans possible with no intention of paying them back. I used the money to pay for classes but nothing else. What did I use the rest for? DVDs, video games, Pornography, booze, food, and other stuff that just means nothing. I “stress” ate quite a bit from ages 26-29, and would spend roughly $100 a week on food and drink. I easily spent over $20000 on pornography and the other stuff.
I did not take enough time off college the first time around. When someone very close to you passes, even if you did not like them, it would behoove you to talk to someone and get all of those emotions out of your system. When my father died (during my first wave of time off college), I did not do this. I instead decided to “tough it out.” I should have stayed where I was, got the help I needed, then went back to school. It was never not going to be there, so what was waiting another year to go back really going to do?When I took my second hiatus when I was 29, I knew much better. By the time I returned to school again at 32, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: take a ton of classes involving writing.
The really bad decisions that I made in my mid 20s have created a silver lining, at least. Although it really sucks to owe the department of education $100k, and although I wasted a good five whole years of my life that should have been the most productive years of my life, I have a legitimate story to tell now. This reveals another observation that many refuse to accept: The bad decisions you make can lead to much better decisions. And also, it is impossible to tell the future. Who knows if the bad decision you made was really bad? This is why it is ultimately a waste of energy to regret things and talk about what could have happened. The only real reason I’m writing about it was because of the epiphanies I discovered from it. Being aware of the stupid decisions you made in the past can help you make much better decisions in the future. And if anyone is facing any of these kinds of decisions right now, my experiences can certainly help.
Anyone who claims they have no regrets is a scared, narcissistic individual. They do not possess enough knowledge of self to understand that regretting something is not an admission of weakness or anything, its you being self aware.
So go through some regrets that you have. Analyze them intellectually like I have and see if you can use them to make better decisions in the future.