Hi everyone, it’s Catt here. This article is longer than usual, but I wanted to share something very personal today that has been going on for me lately and has really moved me emotionally. I’ve recently been up to a lot of things – some are amazing like with coaching and working with photographers, and some are quite stressful like moving to another country. Anyways in this blogpost, I’m sharing something personal about a topic that had always been foreign to me: Regret. I intend to share my experiences with regret, and to get you awake if you’re someone who lives with regrets – if you are someone who does, please read this well, and please send this post to anyone who lives with regret, as it may change their life.
A few years ago I experienced a really bad relationship with a guy I met in college. We were really close friends before and during our relationship, and one thing I remember he always wanted to know was how I had no regrets in life. I had gone through some pretty tough stuff, and I honestly had zero regrets for everything that had ever happened to me. I heard my mom complaining about regrets, I had heard my dad warning me about regrets constantly, but it was the one thing that never rubbed off onto me. I lived with zero regrets, even with the harsh consequences that came with some of my choices.
The guy I was with at the time, let’s call him Alec, would always ask me: How can you have no regrets? Don’t you wish certain things hadn’t happened? And I would respond in total confusion – why would I wish something I chose didn’t happen? Regret simply was not part of my mental vocabulary – it couldn’t even be defined in my life.
We sometimes would go into more detail. I’d ask him what he would regret. He said that sometimes he didn’t study enough and ended up getting grades that weren’t so good, but it would just happen because he just wanted to work on his music more, as it was more interesting than studying. And I said then why would you regret it if you want to work on music more? If you are more drawn towards your music and you ended up choosing to do that instead of studying, why would you regret? If you know you want better grades, you just have to choose to put off some of your music production. Why do you need to regret anything?
Sometimes, Alec would tell me during the times he hurt me “I really don’t know how you can not regret anything, I regret many things in my past, and the list just seems to get longer every day.” Even when Alec hurt me, I could feel terrible, but I never regretted what I chose, because I understood clearly my motivations for choosing exactly what I did, and if I had to change something, I knew where to look.
Well, lately I’ve experienced some regret for the first time in my life.
I experience some regret with getting such a nice car that it’s hard to figure out what to do with it if I’m moving countries. I’ve been experiencing regret to do with working for a company that I felt totally against. I’ve been experiencing regret when I think back on some of the difficult situations I was in, where people I was living with were in critical conditions and I was required to “help out,” only to realize they were using my “help” to not face what was going on.
I couldn’t understand this for the longest time. I had gone through much, much worse situations than these before I experienced my incredible miracle and I thought I would be able to handle these relatively smaller issues. But I felt restless, and I didn’t even recognize that I had been experiencing regret until lately with working on moving. What I’ve uncovered is that in each of the cases I experience regret, for myself at least and the way I experience life, is that they all came when I didn’t make my own decisions and chose to listen to someone else I felt knew more about the situation to deal with.
“Trust your instincts. Your mistakes might as well be your own.” – Billy Wilder
Never have I ever experienced my mistakes not being my own, and for me, it’s absolutely excruciating. In the large scheme of things, it’s fine – I’ve stopped working for something I don’t believe in, I don’t live with “people who need help” anymore, and it’s really just stuff when it comes to things like my car. But the experience of having to live with someone else’s mistakes (even if they come from good judgment), that these consequences stem from following what someone else recommended that I need to be or do, I am absolutely unable to feel empowered and a part of me just “wishes I didn’t do that particular thing.”
In the past while I was in middle school up to college, I had fiercely made all my decision for myself, and it was fantastic, even when it wasn’t. I was so rebellious and felt so strong in my decisions that even if they turned out poorly, at least I would be the one to deal with them. I never felt regret because I knew that each mistake or “failure” I experienced would bring me more understanding, and with more understanding I could gain awareness and insight that would bring me where I desired to go. My rebellious spirit was strong, and I experienced great pain, but also great joy, and that to me is the experience we came from – we didn’t come to make half a world where everything is only good, we came to experience ALL of it.
And that’s something I want to shake the world up with. I want to remind you and myself that trying to play life safe is trying to die, because it’s trying to never live. Being motivated by the safe option is never knowing how much of life you can handle and break through to experience something incredible. In the end, for myself, the safe option became the most dangerous option because dousing my rebellious, fierce, tenacious, driven-to-succeed attitude by searching for safety ended up almost taking my life away – in fact it already has by robbing me of a whole year of trying to do what everyone else wanted of me instead of being me.
I’m glad I’ve followed some pieces, like my decision to start coaching and this whole project of working with teenagers and also moving back to my home country. If these turn out to be mistakes, I can adjust and course-correct and accept my mistakes. If what other people told me to do turn out to be mistakes, I can only live with regret of consequences in which my energy wasn’t fully in on.
If you’ve been like me lately experiencing regret and making decisions to play it safe, I invite you to accept that you have not made some of your decisions yourself, and ask yourself and ponder on the question: Who are you going to be now?
Life really is one swell ride – and it’s really just a ride – meant to be fully experienced, not hoping that things will be okay and that it’ll be a safe ride. Get the hell outside and experience your life because this is not a rehearsal, it’s not something you can say let me get everything right and then I’ll go outside and be like hey everyone, I’m great. It’s about experiencing every single emotion there is and CHOOSING who YOU WANT TO BE based on EVERYTHING you’ve experienced. Get the F*** outside so that someone else stops living your life, and you do instead so that you can actually get your life back and move it forward. You’ll always be the one who lives with your mistakes, so they might as well be your own so that you can learn and grow from them. You’ve already wasted years in not being yourself – can you really live with more?
What’s the worse that can happen? You make your own decisions that don’t work out? Well at least you know you did what you best knew at the time, and now have gained new awareness so that you can do something about it instead of feeling like this wasn’t what you thought would happen. Live! Live, live, live, and stop dying! Choose for yourself, even if that’s going to give you pain. Pain is one million times easier to handle when it comes up because you followed your own path. And it also gives you the precious jewels of awareness that allow you to get to know yourself and what your path really is.
Starting today, make a commitment to yourself that you will start making how you feel and what you want more important than anything else. Starting today, look at everything that you’re doing and evaluate your motivation for doing them – if it’s to play for safety, break the lie. Break these falsehoods. There is no safety, there is only you making your own choices and living your own life, or having someone else tell you what to do for you. Starting today, get out there and make some mistakes, feel it all, get to know what it is about the things you’re doing that will take you where you want to go. It’s all there, we’re all here, and we can all make more amazing things happen if we can learn to make decisions for ourselves.
That’s all I wanted to say today – please get out there and be you, the world needs you and the world desperately needs people to think for themselves and make up their own minds.
We can do this, one person at a time.