In the 250 Words series, the RU Student Life storytellers are each asked a question, and they each respond from their unique perspective.
Question 18: Do you dwell on regrets or learn to move forward?
Sunita: An Over-Thinker’s Dilemma
As an over-thinker and professional worrier, regrets have always come to mind easily for me. I’m always the first person to reprimand myself for my mistakes, for silly things I did when I was younger and even my shortcomings now. However, I find that I’ve always owned up and apologized when I’ve done something wrong, and when you can learn and adapt and be happy with the person you are in the present day, the window to the past tends to get smaller and smaller.
Instead, I find that my biggest regrets, and the biggest regrets of others, come from the the things we didn’t do. I mostly regret the times in my life when I held myself back too much when I was too shy or self-conscious, and letting my insecurities dictate my behaviour rather than living in spite of them. Lately I’ve found that my biggest fear, rather than making mistakes, is not making enough of them. Risks are important. They’re crucial in our growth and self-understanding, and it’s ok if we fail or make the wrong decisions, as long as we improve ourselves from the experience. A goal of mine this year has been to imagine “What would you say to a friend if you thought you would never see them again?” or “What would you do if you had no fear?” I think when I’m older I’m not going to regret the things in my life that I’ve done, because I like to think that every experience counts for something. I think I’ll reflect more on the moments that were taken for granted, when I should have told that person how I feel or had one minute of incredible bravery and did the thing I always wanted to do. Those are the things that I’m focused on now.
Robyn: Nothing Good Can Come From Dwelling On Regrets
Nothing good ever comes from dwelling on regrets. Dwelling on regrets is, for the most part, self-destructive and one should strictly limit the amount of time they spend doing it. Most people do it too often. They think about missed opportunities, broken promises, things that could have and should have been. Then they feel dissatisfied with the choices they’ve made in their lives. Don’t follow this pessimistic train of thought.
Sure, the opposing side might argue they reflect to figure out how they can do things differently in the future. This is valuable. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t dwell negatively on the past. No one goes through life without having a single regret. You wouldn’t be the person you are today if it weren’t for the bad decisions you made. You need to leave the comfort zone to grow as a person and be excited about life. Take risks and appreciate the rewards.
As long as you make choices that feel authentic to you in the moment, your future self will understand why you made those decisions. Your biggest regrets will likely be the chances you didn’t take. You will only wonder why you were so cautious when you were young and the world had so much to offer.
Think about consequences logically but proportionally. Don’t let things like fear and judgement stop you from doing things. Life gets pretty messy sometimes. That’s what happens when you’re young and still figuring yourself out. Sure, you can dwell in the past. You can spend hours upon hours dwelling in the past. Or, you can be excited about the future. The future, to me, seems like a brighter place.
Jessica: It Can All Happen At Once
The mistake we make is believing that regrets and the momentous act of moving forward is unable to exist simultaneously. I regret many things I’ve done (and haven’t done) in life, but I also know I possess the courage to not let my regrets paralyze me. Whenever I find myself dwelling on regrets, I remind myself that regrets are nothing more than a thought: it comes and it goes. What we do next is what we have to pay close attention to.
We have to regret before we can fully move forward. In fact, we must regret so that we come to the realization that it’s never too late. In my younger years, I haven’t always been a kind-hearted person. I have spoken unforgivable words and made questionable choices. I deeply regret the person I was. As an angst-filled teen, I told my parents I hated them one too many times. I regret these words and the vicious way these words left my mouth. However, being able to dwell on these regrets has allowed me to heal and become a better person. I consciously make an effort to remind my parents how much I love and appreciate them because I would hate to regret something I know I can fix. It’s never too late to apologize and make things right.
Now, whenever I find myself dwelling on regrets, it usually means my heart wants to move forward. I dwell and I move forward because one does not exist without the other. Your regrets of the past do not have to be regrets in your future. You can and will move on.
Danielle: Lying Awake At Night
I used to be the type of person who would lie awake at night thinking about everything I regret. We’re talking about going back years, folks. For some reason I found that I needed to replay these moments over and over. They were embarrassing, cringe-worthy and… well, you get the point. All in all, these moments involved some of my greatest regrets throughout life.
It wasn’t until I got to university that I let them go. I don’t really know what changed. I think it was that I was getting a chance to start over; I got to leave high school behind and therefore leave behind those embarrassing, cringe-worthy decisions. My time at Ryerson so far has allowed me to find a period in my life that makes me content. And I am really happy with the way things are going. I think that’s the trick to it. Really and truly finding a way to be happy about your current circumstances and then using that happiness to let everything else go.
It is definitely something I had to grow into and learn. At some point in life, everyone has to learn to let the little things go. In this moment, I can’t think of anything that has happened in my life that I regret because every decision I have made up until this point has lead me to where I am now, and there isn’t anything I’d change. The little things that used to keep me awake at night are gone.
Read more 250 Words at studentlife.ryerson.ca/250-words.