Living a life that is full of regret is one of my biggest fears. I am an optimist and perfectionist, and I hate the idea of things going southward and not working out how I anticipated. I always want to be making decisions that will hold meaning in my life and have a positive impact on me and those around me. It has taken me awhile to work through this fear of mine and I’m definitely still working through it, but there are a few things that I have come to learn when it comes to accepting the times when life doesn’t quite fall into place.
Mistakes that we make often come with a lot of guilt and regret. There have been many times that I’ve made stupid choices and wished I never would have done whatever I’d done. Guilt can serve as a tool to help you improve and learn not to make whatever mistake you’ve made again, but if you let it fester for too long, it can lead to regret. Mistakes are opportunities to learn and should not be regretted. Now, this does not justify making mistakes. We shouldn’t go around purposely making mistakes so we can “grow.” Mistakes are bound to happen because we live in a fallen state and are imperfect beings. So, instead of dwelling on how horrible of a person you are for making whatever choice you’ve made, focus on how you can grow from it. I recently read a book for one of my business classes, and the author quoted a statement made by Thomas Edison that I absolutely love. Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” We shouldn’t regret the mistakes that we’ve made. They are essential to our eternal growth and progression and can teach us valuable lessons that we wouldn’t have been able to learn any other way.
Another aspect of life that I’ve often felt regret with is when I use the little, four letter word known as love. I have met people on both ends of the spectrum: either they absolutely don’t use the word love, or they use it very often. I’ve tried to be cautious when it comes to telling people I love them because of the fear of regretting ever telling them that I love them. Love is powerful to me and I don’t like throwing the word around haphazardly. There are people that I genuinely gave my everything to and truly, sincerely loved them. However, when some of these people turned their back on me and didn’t reciprocate the love I was showing them, I regretted telling them that I loved them. Why should I have given them everything that I had if they weren’t going to appreciate what I was doing for them? However, this contradictory to what love actually is. True love isn’t something that seeks a return. Jesus Christ is the perfect example of pure love. He never sought people to praise him for the love and service he so graciously and freely showed people. There is no person that isn’t worthy of love. Loving someone isn’t something that should be regretted. Regret for loving someone is typically because they didn’t reciprocate the love, and that is not what love is about.
Live fearlessly. Life isn’t something that should be entirely focused on feelings of regret and guilt, on the “what ifs” or “why did I ever do that.” Everything that we experience here is for our gain, even if we don’t always catch onto it right away. We learn from the choices we make, and they shouldn’t been seen as negative parts of our life. I know this is way easier said than done and it’s definitely something I am still figuring out how to apply in my own life. However, don’t tiptoe around life and live in fear of messing up. Embrace life for all of its imperfections. They’re here for a reason, and so are you. Make bold choices. Don’t be afraid to live life.