Every August, the parish produces a publication piece that includes staff member introductions. Often there’s a “gimmick” attached. One year, people had to match our baby pictures with our latest mug shots. In another handout, we were pictured as we were in our college days. This year, the suggestion surfaced to describe (briefly) one regret we have looking back to our years as university students.
I don’t believe in regrets. That said, I confess I’ve struggled with them in my life. Maybe it’s telling I have very few regrets–none really major–from the past eighteen years. That’s the period that coincides with my marriage plus our engagement.
But in my college days, I was full of regrets.
As a junior, I was bothered by “wasting” credits on less useful courses (like I should’ve jumped into German 103 after two years of high school classes in that language instead of timidly taking 102) and not asking my invertebrate zoology lab partner out (before she hooked up with another guy) and sticking with the 7:30AM Mass in my home parish and not getting involved with the Newman Community on campus.
I churned with regret as a young graduate: that job missed, that other woman not asked out, that travel opportunity passed up, that other degree not pursued. As a twenty-something, I looked back on being a college student at age 17 and berated myself for playing it so safe.
I have had many intervening years since my twenties. I left my city of origin at age 29, and since then, I’ve had lots of interesting adventures. I also have unburdened myself of regrets. I don’t believe in them anymore.
I do wish I had traveled more as a young person. It’s more a wish. Not a regret, really. That’s the one I will probably write up for the print piece. I’m amazed at all the travel opportunities students have today. Me, I would love to get to the southern hemisphere and watch unfamiliar constellations sweep through the night sky. Where I do it from: Australia, New Zealand, Chile, South Africa, even Antarctica–that doesn’t matter.
I wish, I hope my daughter takes risks as a young adult. I want her to push herself and explore places and do great things.
I believe in taking chances these days. Maybe it’s easy for me to say that. I’m fairly well-anchored with a career, a vocation, a job, a marriage, a daughter, a mortgage, a presence on the grid. It’s easy, I suppose, to talk tough against timidity.
Heading into retreat tomorrow, this theme might linger with me. There is also timidity in the spiritual life, a drawing back from God, an aversion to going into deep waters. Let’s see how I do on the front lines of bold the next few days.