Ahh, yes, Regret, my dear old friend. We have come a long way you and I. Sometimes you frequent my life, and other times you are absent for weeks, months, perhaps even years on end… and then bam! You rear your ugly face again. But I have nothing against you. If anything, I should thank you, because the more I think about it, the more I realize that your presence in my life is actually for my own benefit in the long run. Over the years you have played a massive role in molding me into the person I am today, by either pushing me towards or away from people, places, situations, emotions and objects, and for this, I shall be forever grateful.
A personal example from my miscellaneous past
Once upon a time, I found myself in a situationship with a certain female friend. Said female was in a real relationship and she had been in it for about 5 years or so, up until I came into the picture. As my luck would have it, I happened to enter the fray around the same time that they were having relationship problems and I just so happened to become what, in hindsight, seems like a great distraction for her, during this extremely challenging period of her life.
I was an escape for her, something to help take her mind away from:
- The mundanity of her long term relationship.
- The prospect of eternal commitment to her boyfriend, and
- A life of what may have seemed like complacency and settling.
I strongly believe that over and above everything else that I brought to the table (i.e my impeccable wit, unbelievably good looks and unmatched sense of humor ;)), what I mostly represented to her was: novelty, excitement, and change. And to be perfectly honest, from the beginning I had a strong feeling that this was exactly what was happening between us. Yes, my Benjy Senses were tingling, but I disregarded them completely as I naively thought that I was on the verge of finding the ever-elusive, ultimate prize of life: True Love. She convinced me that he was in the past and that I was firmly rooted in the present, and I – in an unbelievable act of gullibility – naively believed her.
As expected, after a few short honeymoon-type months filled with ups, downs, ins, outs, texts, phone calls, ‘I love you’s, ‘I miss you’s, ‘good morning’s and ‘goodnight’s, she eventually gave in to the fact that she was not over her ex, and she decided to get back together with him, and I – with my tail tucked tightly between my legs – had to resume my position on the bench, reluctantly cheering the home team on, knowing that I will probably never get my 15 seconds of fame ever again. However, because I don’t really like being a substitute, soon after my cameo appearance I stopped playing that game altogether and I hung up my boots for good.
Who was I to think that I would be able to break into a home that was built firmly on the rock, wreck it and leave completely unscathed? Who was I to come out of nowhere, enter the dungeon, fight the fierce, feisty dragon of familiarity, save the dashing princess and ride away happily into the sunset? Who was I to think that a situation which was literally soaked in ephemerality and screaming “temporary! don’t get comfortable!”, would ever last?
Who was I? And what was I thinking?
Needless to say, I completely regret ever partaking in this game. Why? because I downright played myself, and what is worse is that I knew that this could have easily been avoided. Yes, I had fun, yes, I learned a lot and yes, I grew immensely as a person during this entire experience, but I still played myself.
“Fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice? Nah fam.. That ain’t happening again.”
Now, while some might look at the fact that I came out of this situation with a tonne of regret as completely negative, it should be noted that I will be reaping the rewards from the positive effects of this feeling for years to come. The fact that I have a deep sense of regret when it comes to wasting my time in potentially fruitless relationships, means that I will be better equipped the next time I am faced with a similar situation. The next time something of this nature is on the horizon, all of my instinctive alarm bells will ring uncontrollably from the get-go, and I will be a lot more conscious of them. My memories of being sidelined will quickly come back into the foreground and my feelings of rejection, disappointment, and shame will quickly re-emerge and serve as a warning signal, a BenSignal, if you may, shining brightly in the night sky, sent from Ben of yesterday directly to Ben of today, telling him to jump into his BenMobile and drive as far away from this situation as possible. And if those signals could be translated into a conversation, I believe that it would play out as follows:
Wrapping it up
So there you have it, regret is not something to continuously lament over. Yes, sometimes (statistically speaking, most times) the grass may have been much greener – and less biohazardous – on the other side, but there is no comparison without contrast, and you wouldn’t have known this if you did not experiment by crossing the fence, to begin with. So while you may be sad and depressed in the beginning, just keep in mind that sooner or later, this same regret will come back into your life and work to your advantage.
So embrace regret. Don’t avoid it, and always remember: Don’t play yo’self.
“Know when to walk away and know when to run.”
– Kenny Rogers, The Gambler