One of the hardest things I struggle with is knowing that I can trace a lot of the disappointments or difficulties of my life to one decision I made when I was too young and stupid to know any better. I know a lot of people would argue with me, and say that that isn't possible, and too many factors go into what makes up a life to let one decision have that much power, but I would disagree. One thing can make all the difference.
I can say without a doubt, unequivocally, there is one choice I made that carved out a path that led me to a situation that affected my life irreparably. Damaged it, one could say. Affected every chance I had from there on out, and influenced each and every choice I make now and in the future.
I often wonder how my life would be different, had I not made that one decision. Who would I be now? What would my life be like? Would I be happier? Hindsight is 20/20, blahblah, and yes, if I could go back and have a life do-over, I wouldn't make that choice. But what I'm trying to do now, after years of wishing that one thing away, is try to accept that it will never be. I am trying to not want life to be different, or better, or perfect.
I am who I am, and I am growing to like that person. Working on it, every second of every day, pouring all my energy into that project, more dedicated to it than I ever was to my education. And I wouldn't be me if I had not faced the challenges I have faced, and maybe I would maybe not have the empathy I have, or the sense of humor, or the close relationship with my mother, or my Biff, or my blog, or who freaking knows?
But maybe I wouldn't have the anxiety. Or the depression. Or the compulsion to eat.
I used to go to bed every night and think maybe, just maybe, I'd wake up in the morning and get to start over again. I'd get to live the last five years over again, six years, seven. I was old enough to know better, way too old to cling to some idea of magic or genies or wishes granted, but I hoped. Hoped I could get rid of this albatross, this disappointment, this heavy weight of shame.
At this point, though, this decision of mine is almost a decade old. I have to move past the regret of it. Regret gets you nowhere and gets you nothing, except bitterness.
I don't want to be bitter.
I can't change anything. I can't sit around regretting my mistakes, hating myself for them. All I can do is attempt to learn from them, look at the silver lining, try to tap into that optimism I know is innate to my personality, and realize everything in life is meant to be. That is my mother's favorite platitude, and I will admit it sometimes drives me crazy when she uses it at a time I'm particularly disappointed, but it's true, isn't it? What is meant to be will be, and the mistakes of my past do not define my future. A choice made when I was sixteen does not dictate the happiness I have now.
In hindsight, I could change my entire path, but would I want to if it would take me away from where I am now? Maybe I shouldn't be so quick to say I would. Maybe the new pictures I put on my wall are more than just cliches, and every little thing is going to be all right, because my journey is unfolding exactly as it should be.