How do we measure a mistake? We can never know how the other choice would have worked out and it’s highly unlikely that having chosen another path we would avoid any pain. The other path could be relatively better or worse. Unless it were absolutely amazing, we’d probably still speculate about the other choices we could have made. I have made many “mistakes” in my adulthood, but I’m here now with my husband and daughter, so to judge those choices as mistakes is unfair and painful. Do I wish I had done some things differently? Yes. Do I wish I weren’t where I am with my family? No. I always say to myself that if I had done things differently I’d still have found my husband and my daughter would still be here because it’s not just my destiny at play here: we’re inextricably connected and would be in any dimension. That’s what I believe.
As you can tell, I have given the topic of mistakes and regret quite a lot of thought. I don’t know why I’m programmed to think this way and I really doubt most people think this way. Maybe I’m wrong. I know my husband doesn’t think about the past much, but he’s confident in his decisions in a way I have never been. I don’t view my choices in a vacuum; like I said, the things I have done have gotten me here with my family and I wouldn’t change that. If I could go back knowing what I know, there are things I would change starting in about 9th grade.
They’re mostly simple things, like going vegetarian sooner, making an effort in gym class instead of telling myself I’m not athletic (I am), working harder to get good grades, saving money for college, traveling, staying better friends with my best friend from high school. I don’t want to change the world, just my little corner. I know I would miss out on certain people in my life if I changed things, but I would seek them out. Like I said: knowing what I know now. It sounds like the best of all possible worlds, but I feel like I wasted my youth trying to be something that I’m not. I’m not old, really, but I feel old because I have realized exactly where I went wrong and it was a long time ago.
I didn’t really go “wrong,” I just chose paths that have landed me feeling tired and at odds with my values and I am trying to reconcile myself to that. I have changed, the choices I made were made with the intention of improving my life and they have done. But I think sometimes that I have strayed from my destiny and I’m just starting to get back to it. And it feels like it’s too late.
So how to measure a mistake? How to even define a mistake? I know it was a mistake to leave university and stay home for two more years; I know it was a mistake to shy away from my own intelligence; I know it was a mistake to study massage; I know it was a mistake to let old flames back into my life; and I know it was a mistake to go to nursing school last year. Certain moments in life are clear mistakes, but not everything. I’m glad I moved to Seattle; I’m glad I was a chef even though it’s not an option anymore; I’m glad I moved to Boise; I’m glad I have travelled as much as I have; I’m glad I married my husband and have our daughter; and I’m glad I am learning to accept the things I cannot change and move forward cautiously. Not mistakes, maybe, just corners I have come up against. I have done what I have done and I’m not going to struggle against the struggle anymore. Or at least I’m going to try.