How I (try to) combat regret.

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Regrets. Yeahhhhh. When bad things happen, it’s your natural instinct to feel shitty. To be honest, I didn’t feel great going into 2013. The impact that 12/14 had on our community made the New Year seem superficial – I’m given this brand new year… but why? Why am I fortunate enough to have a clean slate? The shootings that day changed all of us in different ways. I realized that I wasn’t invincible. That at any time, something horrible could happen and I could be gone. With no tomorrow guaranteed, why was I still dwelling in the past?

22 years old and I was already living a life chock-full of regrets. I had two types of regret – the first being things that I never did. For example, I felt unbelievably guilty for how I treated my assistant principle who ended up giving her life on 12/14. I felt sick to my stomach when I recalled how disrespectful I was to my father.  I still mourned the fact that I was “too busy” doing nothing to hang out with my friend the day before she died. These were all things I didn’t do. Thank you’s I never said… kindness I never gave. The worst part about this type of regret is that there is nothing that can be done but move on and learn. At some point, you have to look in the mirror and forgive the person looking back at you.

This is why I’m so emotional. Why I pour out all of my feelings into letters to friends who deserve to know how I feel about them. I don’t care if they think I’m overdoing it, being cheesy, or if I seem vulnerable. It would be an insult to the memory of those I’ve lost if I didn’t do it. If there’s one thing I learned from losing people, it’s that you have to open up and say thank you. Congratulate a person on a job well done. Let people know that you believe in them. Don’t be afraid to tell someone that you love them. Send an email at midnight letting a friend know how much of an impact they had (and continue to have) on your life. Tell them that you’re a better person for knowing them… that your life wouldn’t be the same if you two never crossed paths. What do you have to lose? Are you afraid of appearing weak? Of being rejected? I doubt that your friend will reject kind words. If anything, your friendship will grow more meaningful. And if worst comes to worst, yeah… rejection sucks. But regret is painful. Really painful. Regret follows you around for the rest of your life. Don’t regret words unsaid.

The second type of regret came from things that I haven’t done yet. I felt guilty for getting out of shape, never pursuing comedy and giving into the 9-5 lifestyle. I thought that this was how my life was going to have to be. A younger version of me swore that I would never work in a cubicle… but here I was. I slowly mourned the ideals I once had and accepted my new lifestyle. So many other people do it – so it can’t be that bad, right? I reached my peak of fitness a few years ago… there’s no way I would be in shape again. Oh, and that comedy thing? Hah. I was a dreamer… that was a cute dream.

Then I realized that I was only 22… I was way too young to accept a fate that I wasn’t happy with. I joined a gym, signed up for Second City classes and started going to yoga during lunch to get my mind off of work. It was that simple. There are so many things in life that we have control over. That we can control. You’re never too old to pick up a new hobby. You’re never too out of shape to get back into shape. Change the things you can to tailor a life that brings you more pleasure than pain. It’ll make the painful things that you can’t change tolerable.

With those small changes, I owned 2013. It was my year. A year full of happiness and free of regrets. Things started to fall into place. Away went insecurity, bad friends, and depression… in came love. So much love. If you’re still looking for a resolution, make one with me. Strive to make 2014 a happy one. Live a life free of regrets.

Now go write a letter & send it to a friend. 

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