None of us are strangers to regret; It's something that is practically universal to the human experience. Whether it's a missed opportunity or something we said without thinking, we've all done something we regret.
What is important is that we take that regret and learn from it: take (safe) risks, think about our words before we say them, and, most importantly, learn to forgive ourselves.
Reddit user flytomooon asked:
A few of these are a bit heavy, so be prepared.
Some responses edited for content or clarity.
Visit While You Can
Not seeing my grandfather before he died. I was 17, very much in the puppy love stage of my first relationship and convinced she was the one.
Got the news that my grandfather had bowel cancer. He was an amazing man. Despite not having much, he always used to try and make things special for us growing up. He’d appear at 7am every Christmas morning dressed as Santa, ‘magic’ sweets behind cushions in the sitting room. He was a typical grumpy grandad but underneath that he had a heart of gold.
Instead of visiting him, I spent time with her. I had multiple opportunities. Countless times I could have gone and seen him and I turned those away believing there was ‘always another time’. There wasn’t. He died before I realised what I’d done. I hope he knew just how much I loved him. He meant everything to me and I didn’t even give him the courtesy of saying goodbye. I’ll regret that for the rest of my life.
EDIT: Really appreciate the kind comments and messages of support. It means a huge deal. As much as it's a sore memory, I had a lovely reminisce today about all the good times we shared. As a side note, he wasn't my Grandfather by blood but he never treated me as any less than his own. He was a tremendous man and if I can even be half of what he was I'll consider my life a success.
As I said in one of my replies, if you're in this situation please reach out, even if it's just a Skype call or message.
Don't Be Afraid To Speak
A few years ago some friends and I went to a comedy show at a big theater. As we left we made our way to the parkade and we were joined in the elevator by a dude who was just beaming. I mean ear to ear smile. A little spring in step. The works. As we ride to the top floor he looks around and spits out, "damn what a show, eh?" For some reason I didn't say anything. I looked at my friends and it seemed they were straight up ignoring him. And as I thought of something to say the moment passed. And I couldn't bring myself to break the silence. When no one piped up this guy's whole demeanor changed. He slowly slouched. The gleam faded from his eye, that smile slipped right off, and he didn't look up from the floor once. He went from looking like the king of the world to the most defeated sad man I've ever seen.
I'm not normally that guy who doesn't know what to say, or who ignores strangers. But for some reason it broke that dude. Turns out my friends just didn't hear him.
That transformation still haunts me.
Bro, if you're out there. Yes. The show was the sh*t.
Get Out When You Can
Letting my abusive ex screw up my life as bad as I did.
I lost contact with my best friend and I still miss him daily. I almost screwed up so many friendships. It took me years longer to finish my undergrad degree and could have messed up my chances at further education. I still have PTSD level social anxiety. And for what? What a waste of two years of my life.
You always have resources if you need to get out of a bad situation. I'm always here to talk if you need an ear. It gets better. You can be free.
Fear Is Your Worst Enemy
Succumbing to my fear of rejection.
It's crazy how much you can build this up, like it might destroy you, and then when it finally happens you're like, "Eh, whatever. Your loss."
Turns out that there's just no point feeling bad about not having a relationship with someone who isn't into you too, and all the pre-moment imagination was about someone LIKE that person, but who liked you too -- a variation of them that didn't actually exist. And suddenly there's no REAL loss, because there was never anything REAL there.
Get A Second Opinion
Believing the doctor when he said I was a “late bloomer” at 17. Attending University having not gone through puberty is not fun.
Had to wait until I was 23 until I was diagnosed correctly with Kallmann syndrome.
"You're too young for this constipation to be anything, take laxatives." Turned out I have stage 4 colon cancer at 33. Cool.
You're Better Now
Being a bully in elementary school.
The fact that you regret it means that you're better than that now. You can't take those actions back, but you can take comfort in that.
When I was 7 or 8 years old, I snapped at my dad for getting me the wrong video game and I can still see the disappointment in his face. Haunts me to this day.
You Can't Control What Others Choose To Do
I called my buddy one night because I knew he was having a tough time, I told him I'm coming over, he kept saying no I'm good I'm good...he was less than a mile away. I said okay and then his mom called me in the morning saying he was dead and what did he say to me in the phone call.
I wish I went over
You called him. You did good. Nothing was going to change this. Remember him sure, but let this go.
I think you have to always keep this in mind. There are so many variables in situations like this which makes it really hard to not blame oneself. You have to keep in mind, however, that:
1. You are not clairvoyant. You have no way of predicting the future and knowing what somebody is going to do.
2. If someone really wants to die, they will find a way, with or without your intervention. What I mean is that, despite the best intervention, someone could still kill themselves.
Ultimately, you are not responsible for what somebody else does and it seems like you did your part by trying to help as much as you possibly could have knowing what you did.
This was many years ago when I was a little kid on a holiday with my parents. We went camping and, being the social kid I was, I made friends quickly. We connected through our GameBoys and tried out all the games we had. He borrowed me his cartridge of the Pokémon Trading Card Game so I could play at my own tent. I loved it!
When it was time for us to go back home again I totally forgot it was still in my Gameboy. I said goodbye, got in the car and fell asleep since it was a long drive to my hometown. When we got back I obviously grabbed my GameBoy again only to notice I accidentally left his cartridge in it. I felt SO bad. I was scared he thought I had stolen it from him since he knew I liked the game so much. Being scared my mother would be angry I never explained the situation. I hid the game and never played it again.
To this day I am extremely aware of my stuff, especially when I have used other people's things. It's such a silly little thing but I absolutely still regret it many years later.
I was in the Virgin islands with my wife. She saw a bracelet that she really liked. I had the money and I didn't buy it. That was 21 years ago and it still bothers me. I guess I need to take her back there and get it.
I hope you all forgive yourself soon (if you haven't) and let go of the past.