Most of the regrets that I have seem to center around things that I feel wronged by—that I should have stood up for myself against rather than meekly sat and taken whatever was doled out to me. There are other regrets, too—such as singing scary songs to my little sister when I was a child, taking my sisters to a wildly inappropriate film once, and sending my own daughter to preschool against my own bad feelings as a parent. But most of them are of the first kind.
An old job I had that I used to love quickly developed into a nightmare that actually had me crying in the shower often, largely due to two coworkers but also to burnout. I can recall specific meetings and instances where I should have simply up and quit, or demanded better; you know how it is. You think of something so much better to say or do in hindsight. I’m one of those people who is so terrible at interviews because I don’t do well thinking and speaking while people stare at me, or ask me for something right on the spot—I need time to prepare in advance, which isn’t something you’re often given.
I can remember instances in school that I wish I had handled differently, too. I had a couple of teachers bully me and I wish I had stood up against that, system and punishments be damned, rather than bite my lip and cry and back down in order to avoid it. You’re broken that way, and I wish I had stuck to my own true self instead.
But you can’t change the past, can you? You can just learn from it. And even though I know this, it doesn’t make these constant loops of “what might have been” or “what I should have said” go away in the night. So one of the hardest yet most important things on my own Living to Do List is to chase these demons away and stop dwelling on them; I only wish I knew how.