“If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world.” -Mercedes Lackey
It was freshman year when I decided that I would no longer have any regrets. I had made countless mistakes and I had seen my peers do the same. I cannot count how many times I had heard friends, and even myself, whine about how they wished they could have, would have, or should have done this or that. Most of this seems relatively trivial now, but when I was younger it took up a great deal of time. So much so, that I would call my older sister daily to tell her all that had gone wrong in my life and explain how I would have fixed the problem if I had just had the chance.
Now, I wasn’t asking for advice, I just wanted her to listen to her little freshman sister complain for ten minutes a day, seven days a week. That year, these conversations usually revolved around disagreements with my parents, bad decisions I had made with friends, and procrastinating when it came to school work and extracurricular activities. Being the wonderful person Tameka is, she listened without complaint, for about a month. But one day I happened to call her when she was in the midst of a particularly terrible week. That day she unknowingly gave me the best advice I have ever gotten. She answered the phone and didn’t give me a chance to speak before she said, “Tanesha, get over it” and hung up. It took me awhile to fully understand what those words meant to me, but I knew that she was right.
I had spent so much time considering how to change things in the past, that I didn’t realize how idiotic I sounded whining about my many mistakes. This was the point where I told myself that I was no longer going to have any regrets. Actually carrying out this plan turned out to be a two step process. First, I had to stop thinking about all that had gone wrong, and then I had to learn from what had happened. Not having regrets made me a much more optimistic person because I no longer stress out about the possible repercussions of my actions. All of the mistakes I have made transformed me into the person that I am. I finally realized that regretting what had happened in the past stops me from moving forward.
This has been a little project of mine for almost four years now. It was very difficult to do in the beginning, but I stuck with it and feel as though this has been extremely beneficial. My life is so much simpler now because I no longer worry about trivial things. I just make a choice, and stick with it. I am positive that whatever happens will somehow work it self out.
I believe that one should never regret. If something good happens, it’s fantastic, if something bad happens, it’s an experience that can be learned from. In my mind, it’s as simple as that.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.