There is No Regret, Only Self-Awareness
It started on a beautiful August afternoon, I had just woken up from a wonderful nap when my good friend from Colorado called me and asked me if I was going to the concert I had been talking about for weeks.
Being in Oregon at the time my jaw dropped to the floor as I realized my mistake. I immediately started searching flights, and would you believe it, there was one leaving in an hour, I would land in Colorado an hour and a half before the concert began; it was perfect! I abandoned my project of completing the decorating on my new apartment, threw together a couple bags (I was planning on returning home to Colorado for the summer anyway) hopped in my car and sped off. I dropped my old apartment keys off, and, in record time, began driving to the airport.
All the lights were green, and I was cruising.The universe was on my side and I was going to make it.
I ran to the gate and would you believe it; I had ten seconds to buy a ticket before the TSA women got shut out of the system. Then the self doubt hit me.
I started thinking about all the negative possibilities that would happen, the fear of missing out of my college town, Eugene, OR, when I wanted to be at a concert in Colorado. I felt my love and excitement for seeing the artist was wash away with my anxiety of tomorrow. In a move totally unlike me, I bailed out. Right there at the airport window, I could have pulled the trigger and hopped on that plane, but the only thing stopping me was myself. What the hell was wrong with me?
I spent the night and much of the next day living with the consequences of my decision. What didn’t immediately cross my mind, however, was that these feelings of regret were actually a lie. I prioritized the stress of missing out something else before asking myself what I actually wanted to do.
In my past experience, the Universe responds well to spontaneity. When you live life through your heart and what feels right, good things happen to you. Things click, all the lights are green, you meet the nicest people, awesome coincidences happen, its wonderful!
All of these things happened to me, but I let the stress of my future journey–in this case the rush to get home, then to change, then to rush to the show– consume me! I forgot the end destination completely, which was actually to set up my new home here in Eugene. In fact, in my haste I removed it from the equation completely.
I didn’t buy the flight, and I didn’t go to the show. I missed an opportunity for traveling through my heart’s desires. And at the moment, I felt terrible…. But then I began to analyze why I felt terrible, breaking down my emotions.
In that exercise, I managed to come upon this reality: I feel terrible because –by my nature– I am a spontaneous person! I travel by my heart! All of those things I just talked to you about I live and embody every day with the entirety of my soul, but no one is perfect. I slipped and fell and lost myself in doubt. And although I may have missed the creation of a wonderful story and a beautiful evening watching a performer I love, I also gained something of equal value when I decided to stay and set up my new space. Through this short term loss, this perceived misplacement of judgement, I gained a sense of accomplishment in the long term. What felt like failure actually furthered my knowledge of myself. Even if it was just reinforcing what I already knew, the value in that is substantial.
It’s true that life is the journey to your destination, but the destination should equal the journey! If our lives were governed by a devil-may-care attitude, the results in the end would leave you feeling like you could’ve gotten more out of those decisive moments. Because you definitely could have. By letting my self weigh the options, and consider how the stress of my journey would have overwhelmed me, I saved myself an extremely (read: needlessly) difficult had I actually made it to my destination! I also would be coming home to an empty apartment full of boxes to unpack instead of a home that reflects my hard work and dedication to myself.
Yes, a part of me I “regrets” my decision, and hindsight is human. But I turned that short-term regret into something tangible and used it for self growth, now I can move on and put the past behind me.
Follow your heart, live spontaneously, but always remember that there is no thing as total regret; only opportunities to be self-aware and improve.