Philosophical Friday: Can You Live Life with No Regrets?

Having a philosophical Friday.  Here’s a quick reflective.  I have always been one of those people who prided themselves on optimism, a half full rather than half empty type of girl. I always tried to find the positive in things, including the concept of regret. However, I stumbled upon some Inspiration and Chai and read Bronnie Ware’s Regrets of the Dying awhile ago.  I then began Googling the other regrets many people have and was intrigued by Male Life Regrets, 40 Ways to Live Life Without Regrets, and Secret Regrets, all of which were incredibly fascinating.

I have always loved reading postsecrets or other confessions, and how much deeper can you get than the confessions or regrets of the dying?  It made me start to think: Is it possible to truly have no regrets? I am all for “I wouldn’t change anything because if I had, I wouldn’t be who I am or know what I know today”, but can this always be true?   Bonnie’s list was conducted while she was working in palliative care, and the majority of her patients were essentially on their death beds. The 5 Regrets of Dying sounded all too familiar, and I feel as though the majority of the world would agree with most, if not all, of these:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

I think most of these regrets can apply differently to different people, but I do think they can all apply in some way for everyone.

To end on a happy note.  Here are 5 life decisions that – although were definitely not always encouraged –  I will never regret.

1.) Starting work at age 16 – Turned 16 –> Got my license –> became a sandwich artist.  That’s right, I know the secrets of subway.  Against my parents judgment, I got a job immediately.  They assumed it would negatively affect my grades, and of course, I was stubborn as disagreed.  I probably partly wanted to work because they didn’t want me to, but they were completely correct.  My grades indeed took a dip.  However, I met some pretty awesome people, went to my first winter formal, and of course, learned the ins and outs of the service industry.  It also gave my first experience in leadership as a shift leader.

2.) Studying at the University of California, Santa Barbara – I had never dreamed of going to UCSB.  I had never even heard of the school until my senior year of high school.  My entire educational experience until then was “UCLA or bust!”.  My second choice was always UC San Diego, and my fall back had always been UC Irvine.  My grades, SAT score, and extra-curriculars were not enough for UCLA, and Richard – then, just my best friend – beat me by getting UCSD.  My SAT, gpa, and extra-curriculars were higher than his… but he’s Mexican.  Okay, just kidding… I guess taking Calculus senior year and doing IB looks impressive too….whatever.  My pre-calc grade also took a large hit when I was working late hours at T.G.I.Friday’s, but if it weren’t for not getting into UCLA and UCSD, I would have never gone to UCSB!  Go Gauchos! If I didn’t work at Subway and become shift leader, I would not have gotten the job at T.G.I.Friday’s.  If I didn’t work those late hours there (which I later found out was illegal to keep a 17 year old working until 2am…but oh well), my grades likely would not have taken a toll, and there is a good chance I would have gone to UC San Diego.  Don’t get me wrong, UCSB is by no means an easy school to get into.  I just don’t think it is quite as difficult as the big 3: UCB, UCLA, and UCSD.  In retrospect, I probably would have been miserable at UCSD (besides being closer to my best friend).  UCI fell off my list after I realized I needed to be farther away from home, and UCSB turned out to be the best university for me in the end.

3.) Studying Abroad – If I did not go to UCSB, I likely would have never studied abroad.  Out of all the UCs, the biggest study abroad program and applicant pool comes from SB.  We send the most student abroad, and I was lucky enough to be one of them.  Even if I would have gone to UCI or UCSD, I would have been interested in studying abroad, but I’m not sure if I would have actually been able to.  The only way I would want to study abroad was to be “immersed” in the culture.  In other words, I wanted an immersion program where I went to school with locals, not a university where I learned in English with other students studying abroad.  To do this, I needed to take 2 years of Italian.  Luckily, at UCSB (at the time), their “class crashing” system made it easy to get the class you wanted if you were determined to show up everyday until someone dropped.  UCSD has a waitlist system that makes getting the class you want as a freshman not as easy.  I probably would not have been able to take Italian when I wanted, and I would not have been able to study abroad in the program I desired.  For the rest of my life, I will encourage people to study abroad.  Padova, Italy…you will always be in my heart.  I would not be the person I am today without that semester.  It definitely put the already present travel bug into overdrive and gave me more independence than I had ever had.

4.) Being a Server – If I didn’t work at subway, I likely would not have gotten the job at T.G.I.Friday’s and then California Pizza Kitchen in college.  Maybe I had some lucky experiences, but despite the occasional bad customer, I loved it.  I miss it.  I’ve had other jobs involving customer service, but I think working in the restaurant business for 4+ years will forever be engrained in me and affect the way I treat people in the industry.

5.) Joining the movement with Teach for America – If I did not study abroad or work as a server, I would not have come back my senior year to work a year with AmeriCorps at Isla Vista Youth Projects.  Without some of those experiences, my resume would not have been good enough for TFA.  I will never know the intense criteria that goes into TFA corps member selection, but I do know it includes – in addition to academics – leadership experience, adaptability, and experience in low-income communities.  Without some of the above mentioned experiences, I don’t think my GPA at UCSB would have been enough.  I would be lying if I said every day was a breeze or that every day I was strong with asset-based thinking, but joining Teach for America and the movement is still a decision I will never regret.

Philosophical Friday won’t be a regular thing….but I felt like a rant. Enjoy the rest of your Friday!

One thought on “Philosophical Friday: Can You Live Life with No Regrets?

  1. Great post Tracy! Yes, it is hard to try and live life entirely w/out regrets. It kind of goes with the saying that “hindsight is 20/20”. But I LOVE all of your non-regrets! I think they have all made you the extraordinary person you are!

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