Someone once told me that most of the things that people will regret in their lifetime are the things that they did and did not do in their twenties. Sometimes I wonder, what is the obsession with the twenties, as a decade? Most of the time in my twenties, I go back and forth with feeling like an old woman and feeling like a teenager. The twenties are a confusing era – because it’s the decade everyone supposedly gives you to grow up. And sometimes you feel like you’re grown up and sometimes you don’t.
I did something pretty courageous yesterday – well courageous for me. Because all throughout the last week, I’ve been wondering whether I should do it or not. And ultimately it came down to one question – “Would I regret not doing this later?” And I said yes, I would. Now I’m just waiting to see if it pays off. But if it doesn’t “pay off,” I think I’ll learn something in the process. And I think that’s the thing about taking risks over not taking risks – you always learn something.
One of my favorites sayings about regret is, “There are no safe investments but we invest anyway. Because heartbreak is transient but regret is eternal.” It was by a Thought Catalog writer, Donna Schute Provencher. And I don’t think this only applies to matters of the heart per se. Although I think if most of us are honest, even when things don’t involve a lover, most things are matters of the heart. Whether it’s a vocation or a career or a goal you want to achieve; a goal that you don’t believe you can achieve – most things are matters of the heart. And oftentimes when we don’t have enough courage to go after these matters of the heart, is when we feel regret the most.
I have been told by all my mentors but especially lately that the only way to truly get to know yourself is to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. So that you can figure out who you are and what you want. And that the more situations you can put yourself in, the better for creating a self that you want to become. Almost everything that I’ve heard about regret from people who I look up to, have been the chances that they didn’t take – the moments where they chose comfort over courage.
It’s easier said than done to be courageous – that is a fact. But even in my limited experience as a twenty something, I can honestly say that most of the chances that I didn’t take; when I let fear be my leading emotion, when I didn’t believe that the risk I was taking was a risk that was worth taking because it was a matter of the heart – those are things that I regret the most. For no other reason than the fact that I ended up not knowing how they would have turned out.
I honestly think that most of us can handle rejection. We can handle disappointment and heartbreak and failure. But I think where we fail to live with ourselves is when we have regrets from not taking enough chances; from living life too cautiously. What do your regrets look like so far? Because if you failed and tried, I don’t think that’s regret – that’s wisdom. If you never attempted, that’s regret – that is living with the knowledge of wondering, “What if?” That, my friends, is eternal.