We all have regrets in our lives – even Frank Sinatra. And most of the time I’m able to avoid ruminating about them but recently one particular regret has become difficult to ignore.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my college years. I always admired friends who let this time of their lives mold them and launch them…because sadly I did not.
Looking back, my collegiate experience wasn’t without some success but it was primarily full of underachieving failure and disappointment. What’s worse is that these failures set in motion years of missed opportunities. I’ve found the sadness of lingering in regret and ignoring moments that don’t fill us with pride are worth processing…but I have found this easier to say than to do.
These experiences were over 35 years ago and I’ve certainly learned a great deal since then. However, when the topic of regret pops up they are first in line, becoming impossible to miss or ignore.
I’m part of an accountability group that meets each Thursday to support each other. Last week my friend Lisa mentioned Marshall Goldsmith’s book The Earned Life. In it, he mentions how a friend’s regret has haunted him for decades. This conversation left me wondering how my regrets are showing up in ways I’m unaware of.
The most common element in regret is failure – the failure to do something or (in most cases) not doing something. My work with helping individuals and organizations to foster their resilience has taught me the importance of staying in the game. The power of continuing to show up even when you don’t feel like it cannot be underestimated.
Personally, it seems like my regret has been insulated in a cocoon of time that has protected it from the healthy light of day. But this has also kept me from processing it. While the years have passed and I’ve had many successes to drown out my collegiate failure, they still haunt me. The haunting is not in my face screaming. Rather, it is like a small hole in my inflatable boat of confidence that sabotages and undermines me.
My hope is that this writing will provide the light of day that freshens and invigorates, that removes the mildew that years of darkness have left behind.
Do you have a memory that the light of day would clear up? The process of sharing can jump-start our healing and I’m always happy to lend an ear.