I’ve noticed that it’s unfashionable to have regrets. Looked down upon even. I can’t say how many times I have heard sayings bemusing regrets, or celebrities harping on and on about how they don’t have any. But I’ve suddenly realised that I actually don’t mind having regrets, because all the regrets that I do have promise to teach me something about my future, and how to make decisions with the future in mind.
This occurred to me over the weekend when I stuffed a canvas bag with items from my closet that hung in there, hardly worn, waiting to be altered. Skirts, pants, jumpsuits. Things that need to be hemmed, taken in, or have buttons or zippers replaced. The bag of clothes transported me back to Year 8, when I was choosing my elective subjects for Year 9 and 10. I had trouble deciding what my third subject selection would be – and the offerings were all of the practical kind. I had never been into practical subjects, and my two already-cemented selections (commerce and history) were a testament to that.
A frustrated teacher sat with me and my bestie and our parents as we tried to identify a suitable subject, but none of them appealed to me. Art, Music, Woodwork, Textiles and Computers. Yuk. While our mothers gently suggested Textiles, we scoffed. What did we need with sewing machines and dress-making, we thought. I went on to make what I believed to be an informed decision (selecting computers) and my bestie chose music. Neither of us ever benefited from our choices. She doesn’t play any instruments and can barely recognise a melody, and I, the girl who made her choice based on the truth that computers were the “way of the future” quickly realised that it was a rather uninspiring class of textbook computing. To this day, the only thing I ever remember from that class is what RAM stands for (Random Access Memory, FYI).
If I had taken Textiles however, I would – like my sister who took it some years after me- know how to sew a button or hem a skirt. And no matter how unfeminist that might be, it’s a skill I think all women need to have. It’s not like we have uniform sizing or prototype bodies.
So there, that’s a regret: choosing the wrong type of subject. And I am entirely ok with that, because I am learning from it. In fact, my liberated thought has led me to list a few other regrets that are teaching me things, or at least propelling me to go out and be taught. Regrets like only taking writing subjects in my journalism degree. How I wish I learnt some video production skills, or taken some radio classes, so that I would be more employable in my media career. Or regrets like getting the much older lady in the street to cut my hair when I was 15, instead of someone more younger/trendier who knew what the Mandy Moore pixie-cut looked like.
I guess it’s not so much a big deal having regrets, it’s whether you learn from them that matters. Which is why I love the three images above – they’re all a testament to the fact that we’re not liberated by our lack of regrets, but by recognising that we’re liberated by doing something about them. Learning something, trying again, or simply admitting that were wrong at one point in your life and doing the best thing about it – moving on.
Do you have any regrets that have taught you something? I’ve now resolved to take a sewing class, learn indesign, and play with my windows movie maker so I can practice video blogging. Who knows, I might earn myself some more
regrets lessons in the process, like never hem your own dresses.