“Have you ever regretted something?”
Someone once asked me this question a few years ago, and I came to the conclusion that my unfortunate answer was “yes.” Regret is something countless individuals face, and feeling a sorrow for what could have been is one of the worst feelings a person can experience, I should know. There are many opportunities in my life that I wish I had taken advantage of.
When I was 12 years old, I met a woman named Hope. She told me her life story: how when she was in highschool, she had received a full scholarship to Princeton, but instead she decided to stay at the local community college, where her boyfriend was attending. An abusive, drunkard husband contributed to Hope’s ruin. She had become depressed, and on top of it all, she wasn’t able to go to the college of her dreams. It was not clear to me before, but now I see how false Hope’s ruin was; it was not due to her abusive husband, rather the regret -her deep, inner sorrow- for not taking advantage of one of the greatest opportunities she ever had available to her.
Now reflecting on my own regrets, I have come to the realization that, along with false hope, closed- mindedness can lead to regrets in life. Years ago, I was presented many opportunities by my mother, one such being karate, that I disregarded mainly because I did not want to try new things. I liked the way my life was, and I did not want to change it in any way. Consequently, I deprived myself of adding other facets into my persona, and more importantly, being able to defend myself against unexpected sneak attacks from anyone. I regret not taking karate, and I regret being closed- minded.
About 2 years ago, my doctor told me I had a fracture in my femur (part of my knee) and if I wasn’t in pain, I could play basketball until I felt pain, or I could rest for 18 months. Conflicted and in pain, I decided to keep playing with my knee, and 3 months later my femur was broken, floating around in my knee, and my only option was surgery. Now my pain was not from my injury, but from the regret I faced. I regret playing in pain and what I could have done with my talent.
But what I have come to conclude is that you cannot control what could have been.
What could John Lennon have done if he didn’t get killed?
What could Magic Johnson have done if he didn’t get AIDS?
There are many predictions that come about for what could have been, but the truth is, there is no way to know what could have been. And you never truly know what you are going to regret until after the matter.
It is the impact that you make on the world through the opportunities you take that can over-power your regrets; if you utilize your opportunities at hand, then you are doing everything in your power to dominate your regrets. The “what could have been’s” become unknown if you don’t take advantage of your opportunities.
Life does not have a rewind button, so I can’t undo my mistakes to retake my missed opportunities. However, I can play on with my life, taking advantage of all of my opportunities, never stopping, fast forwarding past my regrets, so one day, I can live with not being blind to what could have been, but knowing what IS.