I’m sure most people can relate to this particular feeling in some form or from some experience, that weighted feeling that conjures a sense of regret. Regret is a funny thing that manages to instill a feeling of sadness and anger both at ones self and usually also simultaneously at that thing/ opportunity/ person or cake that eluded you and now you hold so much turmoil for. This feeling of regret can take numerous forms and be spontaneously born from a wide and constantly evolving number of sources. It never ceases to amaze me how for a time that lack of action taken or decision made, that moment left unseized or reward deemed lesser to the risk is accepted and justified, inaction happily authorized even. Then all of a sudden, like a wave of uncertainty that washes over every pore your body possesses, a dark thick, cold sensation seeps into your most protected and sensitive nerves. The susceptible parts of you that try their best to lock away insecurity are infiltrated aggressively, vulnerability exposed, regret now takes powerful and debilitating control.
It is not often I allow for regret, consciously striving to eliminate the possibility of its hold from my life. It is near impossible task however as regret is an unpredictable animal. You may be familiar with the experience of in the moment confidence and certainty of action, that feeling of being so sure that this is the right decision, you could never not be happy to have acted this way or made that choice. It is the right thing, it may be impulsive, poorly thought out and irrational but it feels good, it sounds fun or the good old ‘why not?’ the best friend of every bad decision since long before the dreaded YOLO took this scenario to another level altogether.
Personally my current aggravated and disappointed regret fueled reflection has been inspired by simple fear of action. Inaction certainly but more upsetting is that fact that this particular regret has been spurred from cowardice and a wavering in self belief. It has taken me significant time and conscious effort to develop the secure but not unwavering sense of self and level of comfort, dare I say pride in who I am that I maintain today. This regret scratches at all my hard work, my efforts to build a solid character and security in how I behave, portray myself, how my actions are my ow and not everyone will perceive them the same or as I do and that that is OK, I can only behave and be who I am. It pulls on the seams of my identity, my surety in the person I feel confident being. It nags at the insecure teenager in me. Returns me to the time in my life when I was at my most disorientated by identity and the whole concept of knowing me and being at the same time able to share who and all that I am with others and feeling happy by this exposure. To say that at that time I had a virtually non existent confidence in belief in the entirety of me is by no means an exaggeration.
I like the person that I am, I would never go so far as to say that I am universally liked as I will freely admit I am far too much of an unpredictable and unconventional character to ever be universally anything but I do think for the most part I am a strong, good and secure person, these days. Life thus far has thought me many lessons, tested my character and worn at my spirit. It has bulldozed me down emotionally, tired me physically and pushed me mentally. These things are part of growth, part of development, part of the colour experience that is humanity. Life is not a straight line, any line that may have once been laid out before any of us i believe gets passed through a shredder, the possibilities of what you life could be scattered in tiny pieces, fragments that with time and work eventually accumulated and gather to create your unique experience, your wonderful and haphazardly constructed life, in my case it feels like an ample supply of duck tape and a passion for jigsaws would be very useful most of the time.
Regret is one of these obstacles, its an unpleasant lesson we learn. In this instance I have learnt to be who I am, to not change my behaviors out of fear that they will be received by some in a way that may result potentially in embarrassment or social discomfort, even though i would be the main receiver of these. I am talking about dating in this example, about being bold and acting without hesitation or the influence of social pressures and expectation. I am not one to feel that the man should always make the first move and I am very much someone who goes after what they want, not aggressively but passionately. Recently though one particular specimen of the opposite sex I knew from my younger days through me off guard. I was cast back into the mind set of the doubtful and timid teen I used to be, afraid to be seen as overly self confident or ‘full of myself’ that awful teen catch phrase that haunts me to this day. I was back to a time when it was repeatedly drilled into me that if a boy liked you he would act and if he was uninterested you must simply accept this, recognize it by this lack of action or communication and must under no circumstances bother him, he who holds all power. I was suddenly back to a time when I felt very much belittled and out of control. I am not that person and never want to be in a position that makes me feel this way again.
I have grown into someone who is not afraid to be bold, to risk embarrassment and believe me there have been times I have been left red faced but that is part of the journey. You have to be brave, be yourself and not allow fear to feed regret and stifle your future. This has been a painful and not very pleasant trip down memory lane, a trip that has reaffirmed my belief in the person I am and shown me quite clearly how far I have come. Regret is the antithesis of risk, live open to possibility and on the edge of peril, sometimes comfort can fuel regret much more than uncertainty ever could. I have no grand epiphany that will create a tidy conclusion, this is a life long lesson that continues to be written for me. This was only a page in my memoir but it a precious page and one that will influence many others I am sure.