I watched a video yesterday of people writing on a chalkboard in the middle of a New York City park. The question at the top was Write Your Biggest Regret.
The responses were heartbreaking.
There are always parts of our lives we wish would have been different or goals we wish we had gone after. And as much as I try not to live with regret, it is always hard to avoid asking “what if”. The unknown can be crippling and being fearless in life is not always possible. But what about being so overwhelmed with fear it stops us from achieving the very things we are meant to do? What makes us think we are not good enough to accomplish the things we want the most? We assume it won’t work out, but truth be told, we don’t know the answer to that without trying. If we put ourselves out there and try for something with failure, that is the best way to learn and grow. There would be no “what if” anymore.
When I went to college at 18, after two years I just decided it wasn’t for me and I dropped all my classes. Years went by and before I knew it, I was married with a great job and had no intention of returning. It was something that weighed heavy on me and made me feel like I wasn’t smart enough. And the older I got, surely I could not be a college student at 25, 26, 27….years passed with no commitment from me. Finally after I got divorced, I decided I could at least try. So at the age of 30 I signed up for college. Two years later I graduated with straight A’s . Not only did I thrive in college, I truly enjoyed it. I was learning so much about myself and proud of being a full time student with my full time career. I thrived because I wanted it so bad. And to think I almost never went back out of fear. I envisioned failing and it stopped me dead in my tracks for years. Now I have my degree I never thought I would have and I am planning on getting my MFA in Writing, something else I never thought I could do. But I can. And I will.
In the video they point out the most important piece of everyone’s responses…the word “not”. Every one of those regrets started with something they didn’t do, not something they did.
Chances not taken, words not spoken, dreams never pursued.
We don’t regret the things we tried and failed with. We learn from every action and we shape our path based on actions in our lives, not the things that hold us back.
I have several things I can write on that chalkboard in New York City, as I am sure we all do. But my hope moving forward is that I can surpass the “should haves” and “could haves” by attempting everything I ache to do. Fear will be there but that does not mean I will fail.
Watch the video and see what you would write on that board. No regret.