I don’t have many. Sure, there’s things I would have done differently, different decisions I would have made, different paths I may have explored, but not many things I feel regret about. It was a decision I made long ago, back when I was still in high school, and I made it to keep myself sane.
When I was 16 I had sex for the first time, and the situation was less than ideal. I mean, it wasn’t rough or bad or forced, but it was icky and I really wasn’t ready, wasn’t ready for the situation, wasn’t ready for what followed, and it threw me for a loop how to handle it. Being raised Catholic and without much bearing on how to process sexuality, sex, and hormones, I wasn’t sure how to cope with what exactly had happened.
It took a while to wrap my head around how to regard the event. My upbringing and religious education taught me that I was a filthy slut and I’d given away something sacred that could never be reclaimed. Personally, I felt a little hurt, I felt dirty and I felt betrayed for reasons I won’t get into. I spent a lot of time trying to reconcile my feelings about what had happened with how much it actually mattered.
One day, it hit me-regret was not an option. Regret would mean that I was dwelling on something that had happened. I would have been dwelling on something I couldn’t change, that I couldn’t alter and just had to deal with. Either I could accept that it had occurred and that it didn’t actually change me or I could beat myself up forever. The former got me wisdom and strength-I found out so much about how I wanted to be treated and the price of mistakes. The latter was masochistic. It was lumping pain and self-flagellation on an already bruised soul, and that seemed like the worst way to go.
So I made the decision to not regret. It was a decision about either spending my life looking back or taking the hits as they came and looking forward to know to duck next time.
I know this isn’t a huge revelation. I wasn’t that young, nothing tragic happened to me, it’s not deep and long and meaningful. To me, however, it is. Learning to let myself be okay with mistakes and be okay with me made a big difference in my ability to look forward to the next challenge instead of dwelling on the fuck ups. It also taught me a lot about how I want to live, and how I want to feel about what I’ve done. There’s a part that’s almost reminiscent to business school-Do what will let you sleep at night. When I accepted that it was up to me to pick behaviors and actions that didn’t result in such mental and moral quandaries, it became easier to keep myself out of bad situations in the long run.
I’ve sat on this post for a while and I’m not sure why. I don’t know if I feel like it’s weak or uninteresting or what, but screw it. It’s the truth and I’ll put it out there anyway.
But if my thoughts on regret don’t tickle your pickle, head over to EmEfferson’s own post on regret for a gander.