Regrets. Woulda, coulda shoulda. I’m not the man I could have been.
Today I read the article below. “Being gentle with ourselves every day means giving ourselves credit for what we’ve already accomplished, not getting stuck in the “woulda, coulda, shouldas,” and giving ourselves a path of hope for everything that is yet to come.” from https://therapychanges.com/blog/2017/05/gentle/
Why am I not the man I could have been. Do you feel like you are all that you can be?
Overall, I feel very lucky. It seems the right people came into my lives at the right time to give me a boost of sorts. There have been enough challenges to force me to deal with just enough unpleasantness to want to make a change. In high school, when I was heavy, and finding a dance partner was a challenge, so I lost weight. When only a B student in college the first go around, I got serious the second time. I learned how to study and memorize things more quickly, and disciplined my self to do the work. Almost straight A’s from then on.
In high school, I shied away from some things, like group sports in high school or group anything, like chorus, band, parties, etc. I spent more time alone than a lot of kids then, or with one friend at a time, someone I felt safer with than a group, who i feared would see my imperfections, my unimportance, and see through my charade. The battle inside, the time consuming decision making process of should I or shouldn’t I was often there. Even when something or someone looked attractive, I struggled with the what if’s inside my head. I spent far more time considering the downside of those what ifs than the upsides, and consequently missed a lot of fun and opportunities. I coulda been an actor, an athlete, an artist, a writer. If not for the fear of exposure. Contemplating asking someone out on a date was excruciating most of the time.
A small caveat. Some probably did not see me as emotionally constrained. I fashioned a pretty good facade. Good looks helped. I had older siblings whose stories and mannerisms I copied. It worked for them after all. Sometimes I shined, when I let the creative juices flowed, and a few victories were won.
At 65, it is easy to look back. Knowing what I know now, if I could go back, what would I do different. You might see this as an exercise in futility. I don’t think so. It may help another if they read this. The very same advice I would give to my 20 year old self, I give to my 65 year old self as well.
Never hesitate to be kind and generous. I’ve missed out on a lot of relationships but there are lots more to have. But it isn’t just about how I could benefit. It’s also how they could benefit from knowing me? My top most sorrow about my dad these days, who died when I was a junior in high school, and he was 47 is two fold. I didn’t get to know or enjoy him. But the flip side is, he didn’t get to know me, and oh, how cool that could have been.
Don’t worry about what other people think of you. As they say in Alanon, what other people think of me is none of my business. And there is nothing so gratifying of pursuing my own dream and finding success. Whether they are critical or encouraging, it is minor compared to my own evaluation. My brothers will attest to the fact, that I don’t take advice much. But taking some of those risks worked out for me. A job in Maine on a sailboat for 8 months, diversifying my studies in college, resulting is a B.A. and an M.A. in “jack of all trades, master of none.” Perfect for teaching middle school shop.
Pace yourself. Doing too much of one thing isn’t good for the body or mind, as it leads to mental, emotional or physical exhaustion. Take time to do things that charge your batteries. One day at a time, or as Johnny Cash said, “One piece at a time.” Moderation is key. Whether it comes to food, exercise, alcohol, and commitments. I don’t think there is a workaholic that I’d trade places with.
Now, more than ever, I think less and feel more. How will I feel if I do this or that? I know I have the luxury of being retired so maybe it won’t work for everyone, especially if you are struggling to make ends meet, and take care of others. I work part time, making my own hours for the most part, doing things that re fairly enjoyable. With my relaxed schedule, and relative lack of concern of what others want from me or think of my, I get to ponder. What would be fun? What would give me a sense of achievement today. What gives me joy. Who shall I call and talk to. Where should I go, or invite myself, and look for opportunities for fun and friendship? It’s working for me.
As for the original point of regrets, and woulda coulda shoulda. Sure it could have been different, maybe better. I’ll have to accept that my journey was a little hit and miss, a little jerky perhaps. I will hold the sentiment that I hold for everyone. I did about the best I could under the circumstances. However, knowing what I know now, I expect the next chapter of my life to be pretty interesting, fun and rewarding.