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What wouldn’t you do?

Someone asked me what I’d change if I could go back and correct some of the mistakes I’ve made in my life.
“That’s a long list,” I said, then considered my answer.
As a child I wouldn’t have felt self-conscious about how most of my clothes seemed to be hand-me-downs or came from jumble sales. I wouldn’t have minded when other kids picked on me.
I wouldn’t have been so lazy at school, or spent most of my time trying to be the class clown when I should have been learning.
I wouldn’t have accepted my first beer at age fourteen, or started smoking at sixteen.
I wouldn’t have left home at seventeen to live in a hostel in London, where I had to share a room with three other guys.
I wouldn’t have got married at the tender age of eighteen, only to split up six years later because I was too young, too selfish and just too stupid to know how to be a good husband.
After my separation, I wouldn’t have let myself go to pieces, or not cared that some of my friends’ friends only knew me as ‘That guy who drank 73 pints in a single week.’
The more I thought about it, the longer my list became.
Then it hit me.
If I went back and changed all those mistakes, I would never have learned from them. Sure, my life would have taken a different path, but then I might never have met Senior Management. I wouldn’t be the person I am now, or have the life I have today. I wouldn’t have a beautiful wife who loves me despite my many faults and flaws. I wouldn’t have three wonderful children who drive me crazy, yet somehow complete me in a way that nothing else could.
So I smiled at my friend and gave him my answer: “I wouldn’t change a thing.” 
How about you?
If you could go back and live your life differently, what wouldn’t you do?


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( 42 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 8th, 2011 02:54 pm (UTC)
I'm completely with you on this. When I think of what I'd change, things like taking my writing more seriously at a younger age, I then think that if I'd done that, I wouldn't have been the parent I was maybe. Things like wishing I'd participated in extra-curricular activities in high school or traveled in college--if I did I might not be married to the guy I married.

I was just talking to someone about life's uncertainties--when we're on a path, we really don't know where it will lead or if we'll come across another that draws us more, and in the midst of things, we don't always notice what we're learning. But we are always learning and becoming. And I'm glad you wouldn't change a thing. :)
Jan. 8th, 2011 02:56 pm (UTC)
I do think I'd have taking a little more time to appreciate having a full head of hair though :)
(no subject) - clarionj - Jan. 8th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jan. 8th, 2011 02:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - clarionj - Jan. 8th, 2011 03:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 8th, 2011 02:59 pm (UTC)
Good post. Our mistakes shape us into who we are, but its always interesting to ponder who we could've been.

I think one of the things I would change is starting on my writing career a whole lot earlier. I wouldn't wait or worry that "You can't earn a living with that..."
Jan. 8th, 2011 03:03 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean. Then again, when we're younger, I think we tend to have a lot of other things going on that might distract us.

Thanks for sharing, Aaron :)
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Jan. 8th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 8th, 2011 03:34 pm (UTC)
There are very few things I would change.
But all of them were situations where my actions
adversely impacted others.
I don't mind learning from my mistakes,
but I do regret the damage I've done,
the times I've forced others to learn something about human nature.
Jan. 8th, 2011 08:51 pm (UTC)
Regrets? Now that's a whole other post in itself :)
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Jan. 9th, 2011 11:00 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 8th, 2011 03:38 pm (UTC)
"Regrets I've had a few
But then again too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption..."

I think those of us happy in the NOW have no real regrets. We are what our pasts have made us, and if that past ultimately made us happy people--well done!

There's a lot in my life people would look at and say, "And you wouldn't change that if you could?" My answer, no matter how difficult, is always, "Nope."
Jan. 8th, 2011 08:52 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't say I did it my way, so much as it just happened and I went along for the ride :)
Jan. 8th, 2011 05:09 pm (UTC)
All those stupid, destructive, sometimes terrible things I did in my past shaped me into who I am today. I like who I am today. Who I am today is a good person in a good place. No regrets.
Jan. 8th, 2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
A good place is a great place to be (if that makes sense) :)
Jan. 8th, 2011 05:30 pm (UTC)
Same as you. There were a lot of tears and heartache, but they all led me to this life I have now, which I wouldn't trade for anything. My theme song for some time now has been the oldie, Thank God for Unanswered Prayers (or something like that, by Garth Brooks -- geez, my memory is going)
Jan. 8th, 2011 08:55 pm (UTC)
Mine is Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

That and the theme from Thunderbirds :)
Jan. 8th, 2011 05:36 pm (UTC)
I definitely agree that my mistakes, though sometimes painful, have helped to shape me into the person that I am today. What I would change, however, would be the timidity and fear that I showed in certain situations. I studied abroad in England 4 years ago, and while I had a good time, I was very shy. I had a few really good friends, but I do lament the other things I could have done/experienced had I not been so withdrawn.
Jan. 8th, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC)
For sure, I think all too many of us, shyness is our El Guappo.
Jan. 8th, 2011 05:43 pm (UTC)
Lovely Post! I sometimes wish I had done certain things differently, but I have absolutely no complaints on how things turned out. :)
Jan. 8th, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to hear it, Mary :)
Jan. 8th, 2011 06:09 pm (UTC)
One of the major regrets I have is not travelling more earlier in life and not having more languages than just English (and schoolgirl French & survival-Deutsch)
Jan. 8th, 2011 09:13 pm (UTC)
The only language you really need is English - and the ability to repeat things louder and more slowly as often as needed ;)
Jan. 8th, 2011 07:24 pm (UTC)
i would have reported the person who gave me ptsd to the cops when they threatened to shoot me, and damn the consequences for them.
Jan. 8th, 2011 09:15 pm (UTC)
Sad to say, but some people are real gits. I guess it's too much to hope that we can avoid them altogether, but as my old gran used to say: 'It's better to be upset by people like that than to be people like that.'
Jan. 8th, 2011 07:43 pm (UTC)
You actually came the pretty much the conclusion as me. The only thing I may have altered a bit was bringing that penny up to the one co-worker that they'd left behind, just in case they were running really short on the register (I know, I know, only a penny, but you also have to take my sense of humor into consideration), the one difference which would have meant my not hobbling around on a cane today.
Jan. 8th, 2011 09:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth :)
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Jan. 9th, 2011 12:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jan. 9th, 2011 12:33 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 9th, 2011 01:54 am (UTC)
I've thought about this question some myself, and reached the same conclusion you reached--I wouldn't change a thing. Life is good now, and if a chronic illness, dropping out of grad school, a major DVT that left me with one leg the size of an elephant's for a year (not literally, but it was quite swollen and tremendously uncomfortable) is what it took to convince me to follow my dreams, then that's okay.
Jan. 9th, 2011 01:31 pm (UTC)
Abso-bloomin-lutely! :)
Jan. 9th, 2011 04:32 am (UTC)
i view it the same as you do: changing the past changes who i am now.
Jan. 9th, 2011 01:32 pm (UTC)
I blame Star Trek and all those space-time continuum-type episodes. They make me think too much :)
Jan. 9th, 2011 10:26 am (UTC)
I gave almost a similar answer to the same question, that though there are some things in my life I regret, I wouldn't change who I am, and where I am now, for anything in the world.
Jan. 9th, 2011 01:32 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to hear it, Sharyn :)
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 9th, 2011 03:34 pm (UTC)
'One can only fight for so long.'

True, and that energy is often better spent elsewhere, don't you think?
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