13. Tell us about something you know you should do . . . but don’t.
As we drive along the road called life, occasionally a gal will get a little lost. When that happens, she has to let go of the “coulda, shoulda, woulda” and just keep going. As we speed along to the destination called “Who We Hope To Be” I can’t help but whine: are we there yet?
This quote is from an episode of Sex and the City, which is where every woman acquires sage advice about love and dating. Talking about what you should do or should have done is a dangerous road that leads to the dark place of regret. But regrets are ultimately inevitable, and if anyone tells you differently then they are a liar. That doesn’t mean that you can’t move on from regret but it will always exist at some point, and for good reason. You are not always going to look at your life with admiration and pride, that’s impossible. We’re human and we make mistakes.
This is not some excuse to be reckless or to do whatever you want without consideration of others. This is simply life, and the truth is that you will make choices that you regret. If you allow it, these choices can empower you to become a better version of yourself. To become a person that values responsibility and holds themselves accountable for their own actions. If you don’t allow it? Then you will probably find yourself in a self-destructing pattern. You could very well continue in a course that yields one regrettable decision after another, and to do this is insanity.
This is the perspective I hold now as a twenty-something who has done and said regrettable things, but I understand that regret often doesn’t come until later down the road, once you’ve reached an older age. Because there are two types of regret in this world. The regret of what you have done, and then there is regretting the things you didn’t do. At the end of their life most people carry the second type of regret.
We should on our death beds with the I should have told this person I love them. I should have gone after my dreams. We should all over ourselves. We want to be the type of people who have it all. We want health, happiness, success, love, but we are either to afraid to pursue it or are too lazy. People tend to live under a blanket of contentment. It is the thought that things are fine the way they are now that keeps us from moving forward, and it doesn’t occur to us to find this troubling until it is almost too late.
There is this quote that is often misattributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald that goes, “I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” Being courageous is no small act. That’s why it’s a theme in some of our most beloved stories. You are probably not going to be able to do everything you wish to do, and you might regret a few of the things you have done. But the key to it all is courage. Be courageous enough to try and work towards your goals every day. Be courageous enough to accept what you have done, and be better.
No more of this shoulda, woulda, coulda.