Last November I traveled to Victoria, B.C. with one of my best girlfriends for a weekend away. I love Canada and always enjoy a good weekend in Victoria, and this one was no exception. While I have great food and music memories of the weekend along with a great story about walking 2 miles for a necklace, what has really stayed with from that weekend even 7 months later is a discussion my girlfriend and I had about regrets.
As we wandered through the streets of Victoria, naturally I started to talk about Canadian TV shows that I liked (what can I say- I watch too much TV and I do love Canada…). One of the shows I started to discuss is a show called Being Erica which follows the life of Erica Strange (I swear I am not making that name up) as she starts a very unusually type of therapy where she is able to travel back in time to relive and try to alter her regrets. I know it sounds far fetched, but trust me, it’s actually a very well done show.
Later that night as we sat basking in live music at the Irish Pub, my friend referred back to our earlier discussion and asked me what some of my regrets were. Honestly, I had a hard time trying to think of anything that wasn’t inconsequential. Sure, maybe I could have tried out for one of our High School musicals or played sports growing up, but in terms of big regrets- I didn’t have any, not even my choice to not finish grad school.
This is not to say everything has always gone perfectly and I have always made the right choices in life. I have suffered through the not so great internships and jobs and not always given my all when I could have. I’m very shy at times when it comes to interacting with the opposite sex when I am attracted and it may have served me to act more boldly. But overall, I don’t regret any of my experiences, because I have learned something from all of them.
I believe that with the right attitude you can live without regrets- it’s all about how you choose to look at the not so great experience and what you take away from them. I’ve had plenty of not so great work experiences as well as dates, but each time I have learned more about myself through discovering what I don’t like and why. This self knowledge that comes with reflecting on negative experiences makes them worth the discomfort and something that I would not wish away.
One of my favorite movies is Apollo 13 (you can laugh at me for this- but I think it is an incredibly well made movie. The suspense is built so well that even though I know in the end everything is OK and they come home safe- when the radio crackles and you hear their voices come through… oh man, I cry every time. Every single dang time.). At the end of the movie when Tom Hanks is talking about their mission he says that NASA referred to it as “a successful failure”. It succeeded because all three men came home safely, but it was a failure in that they never were able to land on the moon and complete their mission.
I love this idea of a successful failure, and it it the attitude with which I choose to approach my not so great experiences. They are successful due to what I can learn through the trial, even though they may have been a failure in helping me reach a goal. So, even though I have had several ups and downs in my life, I don’t have any major regrets, and I don’t believe I ever will.
Looking back on the path of Erica Strange, even though she was focused on her regrets, in the end I believe that by having the chance to relive them and re-examine them, she came to the same conclusion. Maybe they were not really regrets after all, but turning points in her life, teaching her a bit more each time about who she really is and what is truly important.