“I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations – one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it – you will regret both” – Søren Kierkegaard
Last Sunday I visited Keltfest, a celtic themed festival held annually in the Netherlands. Besides Scottish and Irish music and food, and the always amazing highland games, there are also a lot of stalls where they sell all kinds of things. Such as the ring I am wearing in the picture, for instance.
The stone in the ring is a labradorite, and the woman who sold it to me told me it was a stone that enhances memory (among other things). In other words: this labradorite can help bring back lost memories. Whether it really is due to the stone, I don’t know, but fact is I’ve been plagued with reminiscences of the past I had long since forgotten.
I say plagued, because as you, by now, probably know, I have not had a very happy past. I was bullied in high school and I’ve been depressed for nearly nine years until I broke down at twenty-two.
Combine my personal history with some of the stories I’ve heard from people I’ve met recently, and I’ve come to conclude there are some things which have happened in my life that I regret deeply. I came up with a short list of the things that pain me most:
- Hating myself; No matter what anyone ever tells you, there is never a good reason to start disliking yourself. Or, in my case, loathing yourself. If I could go back to high school with the knowledge I have now, with my renewed self-esteem and self-worth, I would never let anyone break me again. No matter how weird I was (or am), or how different from the others, there is never an excuse to put yourself down. I’ve lost so much energy trying to break myself. That energy is lost. That time is wasted and gone and will never come back. That’s what I regret. I should have loved myself more, like I do now.
- Not appreciating my loved ones more; This one specifically goes out to my deceased grandparents. I’ve only ever known my father’s parents, and I suppose I sort of assumed they’d simply always be there. Well guess what, they aren’t. And neither are you and me. We’re all going to die one day, so better learn to appreciate the time we have together with our friends and family. My regret is not hugging my grandma more often or spending more time playing games with my granddad. I know I was young when they passed (eleven and fourteen), but still. They’re not coming back, and I have so much I’d still want to tell them. And I still do, it’s just… I can’t hug them any more, you know…
- Not telling my sisters how I really felt when our mum was ill; One of them went to Africa and the other one almost never came over. For me, it feels as if I took care of our mother all by myself when she was battling cancer. I know that’s probably not fair, but it’s that nagging feeling inside that won’t be shaken off. I never confronted my sisters with this (what’s the point? One of them is not talking to us anyway, why damage the relationship with the one sister that will acknowledge my existence?). But because I never said it out loud, it feels like a burden I have to carry with me all the time, even though the weight has lifted some…
These memories and regrets nibble on my mind sometimes. Mostly when I try to fall asleep. But as there is balance in nature, here are some things I’ve done and decisions I made that I do not regret for one second:
- Choosing myself over my study and work; At the age of twenty-two I gave myself a choice: either kill myself or find help. I choose the latter. I dare say it was the best decision I’ve made in my life, despite my teachers asking me if my parents were okay with me postponing my bachelor graduation (no, they’d rather see me dead – stupid question!) and some people telling me the master year was so tough they didn’t think I would be able to handle it. It was a very rocky road and I don’t think I ever worked so hard for something in my life, but I will say it again: it was the best decision I have ever made!
- Going to Iceland; Not only is Iceland by far the most beautiful country I have ever visited, it was also the first trip I booked as a single traveller. No parents, no friends, just me. Sure, it was a group trip, so I wasn’t alone alone, but I didn’t know anyone else beforehand. It was scary, but it needed to be done. After this trip, many other travels followed and it got easier every time. Takk fyrir, Íslandi!
- Starting to work-out; Never being rather sportive, I started doing Jillian Michaels work-outs a little over a year ago. It felt strange, hopping and squatting in my own bedroom while staring at my laptop screen, but after the initial weirdness, I found out I like exercising! I added my daily Jillian work-outs and jogging to the mix of weekly zumba-classes, and before I knew it I had switched gyms and started body pump as well, for which I am now training to become an instructor (I must add that after enrolling for body pump I forwent my Jillian DVD’s…). Working out makes me happier about my body and happier in general. I appreciate myself more, and that’s something I never imagined could happen.
- Becoming who I am; It’s been tough and a very long (and ongoing) process, but I like me. I actually like me! I have my flaws and my mistakes, but I am me, and there’s nothing or no one who can change that. Nobody has the right to treat me like dirt; been there, done that. Now it’s time to love myself. When I finally let myself be myself that’s when the magic started happening. My advice to everyone is: don’t be too hard on yourself. Let go of the reigns and see how you turn out. You can’t be someone you’re not. No matter how hard you try, the real you will eventually find its way out.
Those are the things I regret most, and the things I am most proud of. What are your regrets? Anything you’d change if you had the chance? And what were your best moments?