Que Sera Sera

Just things we haven't done yet

In 1998, during my senior year of college, I made a list titled My Life's Regrets. Since I was only 21, I didn’t have much to be bitterly ruing, so it was really more of an exercise to work through some feelings I was having about a falling out with a friend. The list was four items long, and the last two were “was never in academic bowl in high school,” and “should have stuck with Latin longer.” I found it last year, in the back of an old notebook while going through things for Cringe, and the idea of the regret list planted itself in my brain, becoming a game I play when I’m sitting on the train or lying in bed at night.

This sounds like a downer, but it’s actually kind of fun. There are the obvious ones that stand out at first, but it’s the careful combing of your life’s back stairs that makes this interesting. The main rule is your regret can’t be an undoing. Think of the Mark Twain quote, “Twenty years from now, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do, rather than the things you did.” If you ignore this rule, this game quickly deteriorates into My Life’s Bad Romantic Decisions, or Why Did I Ever Say/Do/Ingest That, which I suppose are both valid games, but not nearly as fun. I mean, sure, there are two or three people in my life that I honestly wish I’d never met, but you have to respect the Back to the Future rules, and accept that you dated this guy or were friends with that girl, and you are where and why and how and who you are now in part because of that. It’s not about beating yourself up; it’s more of an inventory of the ships that you allowed to set sail.

So, some of my regrets:

Basically, the overall theme is wishing I had indulged my inner nerd more at an early age, or stuck with things I gave up on too easily, whether it was a lesson or a relationship. Reading through these makes me realize all is not necessarily lost: it’s not too late to learn a language or to play an instrument, so this list starts to lend itself to one like Maggie’s Mighty Life/100 Things Worth Doing (which I love, and need to do), and that makes this kind of reflection not at all sad and misty, but a sneaky life-improver guide.

For the record: the one thing I will never regret: every single time I have ever slept in.

I’d love to hear yours in the comments if you’d like to share. Feel free to be anonymous.

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