Choices, Regrets & What If’s


I often wonder to myself how the decisions I make each day affect my future.

I also often wonder how the decisions my friends & family make affect me- yesterday, today, tomorrow, and every day that follows.

Sometimes, I see the way my life is playing out and I try to rewind and figure out which past moment has led to the present one I am facing. If I had decided to go straight to University after College, would I have pursued a degree that I didn’t believe in? Or would I have eventually found my way and be currently nearing my graduation? Had I not taken two years off, I could be free from classes and homework, free to follow a career path and to stop wondering how to live my life around my priorities.


If I hadn’t taken two years off school, would I be the me of today? Maybe, although I still don’t quite see it, I discovered a part of me in that time off that allowed me to become the person writing this post. It was in my time off school that I learned independence; I traveled without family for the first time, I overcame my terrible nervousness around strangers & began writing for a magazine, interviewing musicians from around the world. Maybe these opportunities would have passed me by, had I stayed in school. I’ll never know.

That’s the thing about regrets. Having them means believing that choosing the different path would have led you down the better road. Is that really the truth, though? From time to time, I begin to regret certain decisions I have made (like taking time off school, which I now pay for, or sillier things like not giving certain guys a chance instead of just flat out saying no). I hate the idea of regrets, but I’m human and I have them. I know that my choices in life define the person I become, but why is it that this current person that I am regrets decisions that led to arriving to this place? Shouldn’t all parts of me agree with my choices?

I believe that to a certain extent, I am a product of my environment. And yet every day I find that I am fighting my surroundings in order to discover my true self. I don’t want to follow trends, do something with my life because it SEEMS right, or say yes to someone because society dictates that I’m supposed to. I want to continue making decisions that feel intuitively right in that moment and I want to continue looking back and learning from the choices that didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. Or maybe they did. I’ll never know.

So today, I’m taking a step back from my choices, my regrets and my what if’s.

I want to take a breath, and accept that the decisions of my past will stick with me until I’m no longer here, and regardless of whether I am okay or not with that, it is the truth. So I want to BE okay with them. I may not understand why I don’t agree with some of my past choices, but I truly, sincerely, and honestly believe that I made them in that moment for the benefit of me today, tomorrow, and every other day that comes after.

This applies to every part of my life; whether it’s taking too long to forgive someone, not saying the right words to a loved one when the time was right, choosing my freedom for a little while over a more responsible choice, or even saying no when later I wish I’d meant yes.

I am okay about having what if’s in my life. It might mean that I have more opportunity to regret, but it means I have more space to learn and to grow as a person. And tomorrow when I wake up, I WILL be better for it.



8 responses »

  1. I go through this cycle quite often when I look back at my romantic relationships. I question how come I wasn’t strong enough to leave bad situations and why did I let it get that far. I’m finally accepting that it was something I had to learn and making the choices I did was part of my learning process. Regrets are hard to let go though. I totally agree.

  2. This is such a well-written post, Melissa! Especially loved this: “I am okay about having what if’s in my life. It might mean that I have more opportunity to regret, but it means I have more space to learn and to grow as a person.”

    I deal constantly in what-if’s and regrets. I constantly wonder if I had chosen this decision or taken that path, how different my life would be. But I also know every single struggle I’ve faced, I have faced for a reason. It has made me stronger and more sure of myself and what I want out of life. And I think that’s what our struggles give us: experience we would not have had had we not gone through it.

  3. “What if’s” is a risky game. what if i never became a dad at 19? well maybe my life would have been easier but i might not have ever came out of my shell (i barely have now!) whatif things had worked with my ex? would my life have been simpler? probably, but i doubt i ever would have been as happy as i am now. a person is made by the choices they make and having the courage to stand by them, understanding that they wouldn’t be the person they are today if they hadn’t. you may not make all of the right choices and you may not be following the path you’re expected to, but wolith every step you are creating your own path and with every choice you’re creating your own story. it must be a good one because we’re all still rwading 🙂

  4. Oh, I can so relate to this, Melissa. I constantly wonder about the what-if’s in life and what would have been different if I had chosen a different path. Do you remember the movie “Sliding Doors” with Gweeneth Paltrow? Sometimes I wish I could live some “parallel lives” to see if the decisions I made in the past would really change who I am as a person or just my course of life….

  5. I think our lives can go LOTS of different ways but it can’t go all the ways we want it to / wish it would at once. When I start having “what if” moments I just try to remind myself that I AM happy in the here and now. And if I’m not I figure out a way to change that 🙂

  6. I also struggle a lot with regret and one thing that’s really helped me out with it–interestingly enough–is my tattoos. I have a few tattoos now that I may not have gotten a few years later, but the idea of covering them up or removing them makes me extremely sad. They’re a part of my journey. There are things in my past I’d prefer to change but can’t, and if they hadn’t happened maybe I wouldn’t be who I am today.

    I’m not saying everyone should get tattoos, just that mine have given me good perspective. Good luck my friend, as always!

  7. This is such a great post! There are so many different directions that our life can take. Our life is full of “What ifs”. At the end of the day, it’s all about trusting your gut and hoping that you made the right decisions. And, in those instances where you may have made a poor choice, it’s important that you learn from your mistakes. Mistakes are what help you grow as a person.

    Do I regret waiting so long to complete my Bachelor’s Degree? No, not really. I started college right out of school and finished my 2 year degree but at that point I knew I wasn’t ready to proceed with my 4 year. I needed time off to explore who I was and to spend some time on the road. Sure, my life is a lot different than many of my friends as a result of my decisions but we aren’t all meant to live the same cookie cutter life.

  8. Great post… I think we all sort of struggle with our regrets or wonder about the path we are on and how life might be different if we had chosen a different path at a fork in the road of the past. I know I think about those things. In general, I have only one big regret and that was buying my condo in suburbia back in 2005. If I could go back and undo that, I would, mostly because absolutely nothing good has come of it (seriously… It’s worth less than 1/2 what I paid for it). But besides that, I am happy with the choices I’ve made. I always hope and believe that at some point, we’ll get to a point where we can look back and see that the things we did and the choices we made are what led us to where we were meant to be. I feel that way about some aspects of my life right now (mostly my career), but I don’t feel that way about much else…

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