#IWSG: In Defense of Regrets

Hello, friends!  Welcome to this month’s meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosted this month by Tonja Drecker, Victoria Marie Lees, Mary Aalgaard, and Sandra Cox.  To learn more about this amazingly supportive group, click here.

I knew a girl once who lived by the motto “no regrets.”  She was rather insistent about this.  She insisted that no matter what happened, no matter how badly things turned out, she would never, ever have any regrets.  And… well… I don’t want to go into any details here, but… this girl seemed to keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  Regrets aren’t necessarily a bad thing, you see, so long as they help you learn.

Next year, I’ll be turning 40, and I have a lot of regrets.  A few too many, perhaps.  My biggest regret has to do with being queer.  I came out of the closet a few years ago.  I regret not coming out sooner.  You don’t know how heavy of a burden it is, carrying around a secret like that, until you finally put that burden down.

My second biggest regret—which is really not one big regret but a constellation of interconnected little regrets—has to do with writing.  So many opportunities came my way when I was younger, but I didn’t take them.  Sometimes it was fear that held me back.  Other times it was pride.  Whatever the cause, I missed out on a lot of things.  Maybe those things wouldn’t have worked out anyway; I’ll never know.

For those of you who are familiar with Star Trek, I sometimes feel like that alternate timeline version of Picard who never rose to the rank of captain and who was, instead, stuck as a junior grade science officer his whole life—all because he was too scared to take a risk.

I have other regrets, too: times when I hurt people, times when I let other people hurt me, times when I should have spoken up, and times when I really, really, really wish I’d kept my mouth shut.  I could wallow in all these regrets, of course, or I could treat them as lessons learned.

By acknowledging my past mistakes, I’ve learned to be kinder.  And when others are unkind to me, I’ve learned to have the self respect necessary to walk away from the situation.  Should I have come out of the closet sooner?  Yes.  But I’m out now, and I’m never going back.  And as for all those writing opportunities I missed… the real topic of this Insecure Writer’s Support Group post… well…

Despite what they say, opportunity does not strike once in a lifetime.  Opportunities keep cropping up over and over again throughout our lives.  It’s never too late.  Sure, I missed out on some opportunities when I was younger, and those specific opportunities are never coming back; however, there are other opportunities in front of me today.  And today, I know better than to let fear or pride or any other silly excuses hold me back.

I’m not going to end this post by asking if you have regrets or by saying “please share in the comments below.”  That would be super inappropriate!  But I do hope this was useful and encouraging to somebody, and if so I’d love to hear that.

P.S.: I do hope this post is helpful to somebody, but this is also my way of giving myself a pep talk.  I’m about to try a thing.  I’m about to take a risk.  It might not work out, and that’s fine.  If it does work, you’ll be hearing more about it in the future.  The important thing right now is that I’m trying.