Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

Normally I look forward, eagerly anticipating what’s next: a walk with a friend, spending time with my sisters, a trip to someplace new, even the writing-related work I do for clients.

But during this past year, spent mostly at home and unplugged, even from family and friends, I’ve found myself looking back at my life, often with regret for missteps and mistakes that include not wearing sunscreen, tolerating an abusive high school boyfriend before I knew any better, hosting a 40th birthday dinner for a friend instead of going to the hospital to visit my dying dad, accidentally sharing information about a cousin’s health when I’d been asked not to, not standing up for myself when I sold my business and not getting married and moving to DC when I had the chance.

My regrets also include missed opportunities: dropping out of high school track despite being told I had potential, giving up on watercolor painting before I’d gotten the hang of it and not saying yes the first three times a friend offered me her Paris apartment for as long as I wanted to stay.

At first I thought I’d have a long list. But I don’t. At least not yet. I also thought that reviewing my regrets would make me sad. It has…but it’s also empowered me to make amends and to think more seriously about what I want from my life moving forward.

And while I haven’t yet finished reading The Midnight Library, I am journaling about what my life would be like if I, like the book’s protagonist, had made different choices. Sure, some things would be better, but I’d still have plenty of wouldas, couldas and shouldas to contend with. That’s life!

But I also know that, moving forward, I will do better…at trusting my gut, taking risks, leaping at opportunities and, most importantly, being true to myself.

3 thoughts on “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

  1. Sometimes it helps to look in the rearview mirror, but don’t stare too long. Perhaps on the list of regrets, we also need to list the good things that happened in our life. Then think of an eraser. For every regret we wish to remove, we also have to take away a good thing. Like the movie “Back to the Future” portrayed, one moment changed could rearrange everything. Even if it was possible to erase regrets, our life would not have been the same in so many other ways.

    • Love the idea of bringing an eraser into the picture. Have also been playing around with do-overs. Realize there are some regrets that I can still do something about..

  2. We all have regrets as we look back over our lives, and while I think it’s good to “own” them, I think it’s also good to forgive ourselves. Learning to trust our own instincts is a hard lesson to learn, and it rarely comes to us until later in life.

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