I’m really good at regret. Some emotions, I’m not too good at, but guilt and regret are probably the ones I’m best with. Happy still makes me a little uncomfortable, and mad really just burns out quickly, but man can I hold a grudge against myself. You could, if you were so inclined, consider me to be a connoisseur of guilt. I’ve sampled all of its flavors over the years and found them to be quite distinct from one another. There are so many decisions that I wish I could go back and change, and even more mistakes I wish I could unmake. It doesn’t do to dwell on them though, but to look back and figure out what I learned from each one.
Gone to College
I know this one seems counterintuitive. You’re probably saying, don’t you mean you regret dropping out of college? No. I shouldn’t have gone to college when I did. I burned out pretty hard my senior year of high school. I needed time to recover from it, but I didn’t give myself any. It’s hard to be 17 and in college. It’s harder when you don’t really want to be in school at all. There used to be a tradition of people taking a year off between high school and college, and I think I understand why.
Lesson learned: Rest when you need it, or you’re doomed to failure before you even start.
How do you celebrate an 18th birthday? Well, you can register to vote. You can buy lottery tickets and porn, or, you can begin a horribly damaging addiction that will leave you broke and dying. Guess which one I decided to do. Once I started of course it snowballed until I was chain smoking 3-4 packs a day. Now it’s been almost a decade, and I’ve stopped smoking a few times over the years, but I’ve always relapsed and gone back. I am slowing down my usage to about a pack every 3 days, but still. It costs too much money and it rips away your health.
Lesson learned: Decisions we make today can effect us for years to come.
It probably seems pretty harsh, but I’d much rather have never gotten married than spent the 10 moths together and exploded the way we did. There are a lot of contributing factors to my marriage not working, the least of which is that no one should ever get married ever because it’s a soul-sucking, obsolete institution kept in place by the government so they can control you. The biggest contributing factor was probably the fact that neither of us was really ready to get married, and both of us were in a weird dark place at the time.
Lesson learned: 1- Marriage is for suckers and ruins your credit. 2- Don’t do something just because you think it’s what you want. Find out what you’re really getting into first.
Eaten at that Mongolian Barbecue Place
I love some cheap Chinese buffet, and if you’ve ever been to Springfield, MO you know that it’s pretty easy to find. It’s also easy to tell which ones are the established places, because they never change their name. People have been eating at some of these places for decades. So, then, why did I think it would be okay to go to the place that changes its name ever 3-4 weeks? I don’t know, consider me stupid.
Lesson Learned: Go with the tried and true or get horrible food poisoning.
Told that one story that one time
I’m a storyteller, it’s what I do. I’ve told a lot of crazy and wild stories, and only a handful of them have been complete fabrications. My particular story telling specialty is usually to embelish the minor details of events. On more than one occasion, though, I’ve been known to go a little to far, or tell a story that I really shouldn’t have. I’m not going to get into details here, people who have heard me tell stories can make their own assumptions about which story I’m referring to. I might even tell them again sometime down the line. I’d hate to steal writing material from future me.
Lesson Learned: Not everything is worth sharing, especially if it makes someone else uncomfortable.
Cut my Hair and shaved My Beard
I know, you can’t be Grizzly Adams forever, but I do miss both my pony tail and my thinkin’ scratch. Now, my hair has gotten so thin that I couldn’t grow it out if I tried, and I have to keep shaving because my face is too itchy to bare otherwise. I suppose the plus side, it is much easier to keep everything clean now, but chances are I’ll never be able to star in a movie as a burly mountain man. These are the prices we pay, I suppose to fit into society.
Lesson Learned: Who gives a shit what society thinks, do things for yourself.
There are a lot of other things I’ve learned over the years, too, like don’t stick your hand in fire or don’t drink something with Mr. Greenface on it, but I think some lessons are pretty universal.
What have you learned from the mistakes in your life?