Regrets & Moving Forward

Everyone always spouts that gem, “Live life with no regrets.”

Advice that, admittedly, never sat right with me.

The idea is that you own your decisions–and to hell with it all, that’s you. At one point, those decisions made you happy, why beat yourself up over it? You’ve grown and perhaps are no longer the type of person to make that choice. No point in living in the past.

That mentality isn’t all that far from, “You only live once.” A mantra that people, yes make fun of, but also use as justification for poor behavior.

Now I’m not proposing that you dwell on your mistakes and become a glutton for punishment. Emotional masochism isn’t a virtue. But to simply dismiss the past as an inconsequential event is foolish. To do so without proper reflection is potentially harmful.

Our past can definitely be the deprecating agent that pulls us into stagnancy. It can whisper devastating “truths” into our ears, convincing us of our little worth. Stay where you are because what’s the point? You can’t escape your past–you might as well become it.

A few years ago, I set on a path that brought me to this hopeless state. And while a few months ago, I had said it wouldn’t deter me–it did. A simple sentence floated around my head. Four small words kept me paralyzed.

I ruined my life.

I’m 23. Still in my early twenties, and yet with the feeling that somehow, this is all my life will amount to. That I have reached the pinnacle of my existence, and how little there is left to experience. Little that is available to me, that is.

But I’m 23.

Foregoing thoughts of regret has never been a shortcoming of mine. The other extreme, on the other hand, has. And for what? What benefits have there been except to become a prisoner of my own anxiety and fragility?

So no, don’t live life floating through as if there are no consequences. Even the informal interpretation is extremist. But so is over-correcting it.

Learn to regret and then learn to move on. Do better.

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