The Weakness of Regret

Jeanie - Lebanon, Oregon
Entered on May 15, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

“Oh my gosh, she broke the door handle!” I thought to myself, wide-eyed, as I stared at my fuming mother through the driver’s side window. It was a warm June afternoon, and as I parked the car in the driveway, my initial instinct to lock the door from the eminent danger stomping its way towards me took over. Unfortunately, doing so only ended up with her accidentally breaking the entire handle off of the Camry’s door, which needless to say didn’t help soothe her furious attitude.

That was my senior year of high school. What happened to me then? Who had I become? I remember I always used to be the one telling my older brother it was stupid not to listen to our parents, and now I was doing just that. I certainly wasn’t the “perfect” little girl I had always been.

No, my senior year is marked clearly in my mind as the time of my “rebellious” phase. I was never really BAD, but at times I was definitely lacking in the integrity that I had always possessed before. I would lie to my family to sneak out and be with a boy they didn’t approve of. I’d openly disobey my parents’ instructions and take the car without permission. I was harsh and contentious towards them; I really can’t blame them for losing trust in me and getting angry; I think I drove that poor couple insane that year.

Looking back on those times, and the mistakes I had made, I wonder, “If I had the chance to do it all again, would I do things the same way?”

On first thought, of course I would! I would want to be able to see what I see now, and how having such faults in the past could make things harder for me in the future. I would want to do better than before. But what good does it do? I cannot change the past. Why should I concentrate on the errors of yesterday when I should work on not making any more today? So I decided to stop asking those questions.

I wouldn’t want to change the past. It’s my past, and in a way, it’s made me who I am today. All the choices I’ve made, both bad and good, have shaped me into who I am. And guess what? I like who I am! I’ve learned from my past and mistakes, and I won’t make them again. Learning from failures and slip-ups makes them worth it (but don’t go around trying to mess up, it doesn’t work that way!). Often failure is the fastest and most effective way to learn and grow from something.

I do not believe in regret. Everyone does things they aren’t proud of. Whether it’s a big blunder that can alter our entire life’s future, or a small embarrassing mishap, humans make mistakes; it’s in our nature. What matters is what we choose to do with our mistakes. I like to ask myself, “Will I spend the rest of my life concentrating on how things could be different, or will I fix the problem, if it can be, and move on? Will I learn from my mistakes or reside in a state of misery for the rest of my present and future because I cannot change the past?” Regret will only hinder the growth mistakes could initiate within us.

Since my “rebellious stage”, I’ve learned a lot about myself, my parents, and even gained a different perspective about those around me. I’m over that stage and, although it wasn’t easy, I think I’ve regained my parent’s trust. I try to help them whenever I can, whether it’s extra work or just talking with them. I even helped them replace the door handle to the car. My relationship with my parents has actually grown better after this experience! Why should I lament it?

I live without regrets, and I don’t regret it.