A few months ago, in an attempt to dissuade me from following my heart down an admittedly crazy path, my father pointed out several of my past misadventures in the relational realm and urged me not to do something I would later regret.
If I may be so bold, I regret nothing I’ve done in my relationships. Being an F on Myers-Briggs, I value relationships above all else, so you would think I’d be more upset when they end. And I am, but I do not regret anything that I’ve given, because in the act of giving I am inevitably enriched, and that I get to keep.
The Guardian posted an article about the top five regrets of the dying, as heard by a palliative care nurse in Australia. I’m trying to outgrow these now, so that I don’t have them when my time finally comes.
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
I am still figuring out exactly what it means to be true to myself, but I think I am definitely getting there. Respecting others’ feelings is certainly a big part of who I am, but I am learning to do that without compromising my own boundaries and ideals.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
I feel a little regret for the time I spent working in college and high school, but it set me up to graduate twice with 3 degrees and not a cent of debt, which has enabled me in the years since graduating to make most, if not all, of the choices that brought me my greatest happiness. I choose now to work hard at what I want, not for others’ approval or expectations of what I should be doing.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Haha, this…is probably not something with which I will ever struggle. Any bouts of emotional constipation will resolve themselves with rather great swiftness and varying (and generally lessening) degrees of meltdown.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
I like to think that I am reasonably good at this, or maybe I have just become better at accepting the fact that friends will move closer and farther throughout my life, but that distance is neither malevolent nor irreversible in most instances.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Now this one I feel. As narcissistic as it sounds, I think that my greatest regret so far is that I have wasted so much time being unkind to myself, because in the process I tend to become someone who is unable to be kind to others (cf. my last job).
What is your biggest regret?