Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

No Day but Today

on March 29, 2011

This week, we’re talking about regrets, which is somewhat difficult for me. You see, I don’t do regrets; I don’t believe in them. I think they’re the worst form of baggage a person can carry. Regrets hold you back; they can make you overly timid about trying new things and they force you to relive, over and over again, events which you would like to put to rest. Am I meaning to suggest I don’t make mistakes? Certainly not. Have I made poor decisions? Of course, and sometimes I do feel badly about what I have done or how I have behaved for a bit. But I don’t let these things linger with me for too long. I try to find a lesson to be learned from the experience and then put it to bed.

Take my Masters degree, for instance. I jumped right in and enrolled in a private school because the subject sounded interesting and the school was convenient. I didn’t really think about the level of debt I would incur to go to this school (thanks a lot, NYU!) or how long it would take me to pay it off, and what else I could be doing with that money, like buying a new, pretty house. I also just assumed that receiving a Masters degree would increase my pay and provide me with a wealth of job opportunities. Well, as I’ve discussed before, none of that came to pass. Sure, it was a dumb decision, but I can’t say I regret it all that much. At some point, I’m sure it will finally make financial sense, and I really did enjoy learning about global affairs and I feel I am a much better informed person now. This experience has also taught me to think through major decisions more thoroughly, and discuss big ideas I have with someone else (of course, getting married helped with that too).

Another example occurred when I was just a kid. My sister and I were attending a craft fair at school. It was set up to help kids make presents for their parents and grandparents and whatnot for Christmas. Anyway, the place was pretty mobbed and the volunteers were a bit overwhelmed (of course, in my young, self-centered mind this did not occur to me). My sister kept getting passed up time and time again for getting her project started. I got mad and made a rude comment to one of the parent volunteers. I felt I was justified at the time, but really, I was just a snot-nosed kid getting uppity with a parent who was volunteering her time to the school. I felt badly about it for quite some time, but the experience taught me to be more patient. It also forced me to bite my tongue and keep my gut reaction to myself and assess what actually is going on before I make a rude remark. I still have a temper and sometimes this lesson doesn’t always shine through, but I certainly think I’m better than how I used to be.

I’ve made my share of blunders in life, perhaps more than my share, but I’ve never seen the point of dwelling on them. To me, it’s just wasted energy that could be much better spent doing something else. Learn from the mistake and move on is my motto, or as one of my favorite musicals puts it so much better, “Forget regret, or life is yours to miss./No other road/No other way/No day but today.”

(clip from the very ending of RENT, the movie, which probably won’t make much sense if you’re not familiar with the show, but it’s a good song.)


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