Inescapable Regret

There are some things in life that are really hard to escape no matter how often you try: the curly hair that you were “blessed” with that is only slightly curly but mostly just a pain in your derriére, the obsession with baked goods that keeps you as a constant member of the Chubby Girls Club (only second to the Clean Plate Club), and regret. Unfortunately, regret is practically inescapable.

If someone were to ask me if I have any regrets, I would tell them no. I want to come off as confident and secure in every decision that I’ve ever made in life, but I’d also like to think that everyone else is just as regretful as me. Sometimes, I feel like I’m right where I’m supposed to be; I feel as though even my poor decisions have led me in the correct direction. Other times, I can become crippled with regret and wonder where my life would’ve gone if I would’ve just made a few better, wiser, more thought out decisions.

Sometimes, regret comes in waves of humor:

I regret the day that I drove right passed my exit on a Naval base, proceeded to then drive passed the designated area for people like me to make a U-turn when they’ve missed their exit, wound up at an intense gate meant only for Navy people, and had to be escorted off of the Naval base by Naval Police.

I regret the day in college that I thought it would be a good idea to wear cowboy boots out and wound up tumbling down 17 stairs at a party in front of hundreds of other college kids.

I regret the day in Junior High when I tried to do a split-leap next to a hurdle during track in order to impress all of my brother’s attractive friends who were watching only to end up face down on the floor of the gym with a split-open face, a room full of laughter, and a shameful walk back to the locker room.

There are days when I will remember that dreadful day in track and find myself laughing uncontrollably in the middle of a Starbucks. If I had the chance, I’d tell 14-year-old Kaelly to please never try out for hurdles and stick to running the track instead. But since I can’t change it, I laugh about it and hope that it will remind me to never do something so embarrassing again.

Other times, regret comes in waves of “what-ifs:”

What if I would’ve tried harder on my ACT?

What if I would’ve tried out for the dance team in college?

What if I would’ve changed my major to nursing while I was in college?

I often wonder what decisions I’ve made in life that have completely changed the course for me. Maybe I’d still be in college if I would’ve switched to nursing, and maybe I’d come out of it with job security and a salary. But maybe I would’ve found out that I hated it and switched right back to English?

How do you know when something is the right decision? And even when you think that you’ve made the right decision, how do you keep convincing yourself that it was right everyday after that?

I spend a lot of my time wondering what the rest of my life will be like. I wonder what would’ve happened if I would’ve gotten a specialized degree with job security. Some days, I wish that I would’ve, but other times, I remind myself that I wouldn’t be where I am now if that would’ve happened. But who knows where the rest of life will take me. Will I go back to school? Will someone take a chance and give me a career in writing? Will I teach? Will I go into nursing? Will I get my MFA?

I have no idea what’s going to happen in the next couple of years. If we’re honest, I don’t even really know what I’m doing the rest of the day. But I’m willing to take chances, and I’m willing to follow my instincts. When the regret is paralyzing, I’ll keep reminding myself that everything happens for a reason and God has a plan. Someday, I’ll understand that plan, but for now, I’ll keep making blind decisions and hoping they turn out well.


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