If regrets were water droplets, I could maybe fill an eighth of a cup. Maybe. We all have things we wish we had done differently; decisions that we could have made that would have changed the paths our lives took. For me regrets are mostly a waste of time and spending too much time dwelling in the past can cause us to miss the present and warp the future.
If I had gone to college straight out of high school, if I had children, if I hadn’t listened to doctors who told me that anti-depressants were the only way I could feel better, if I hadn’t married the man I did or if I had stayed married. All of those ifs add up to a different life – a different me. So, no, I don’t regret much these days because I like who I am more and more each day.
For the sake of this writing prompt, though, I will look at one thing I wish I had done differently. I wish I had taken myself seriously as a writer when I was a kid. I wish I had had encouragement that allowed me to keep trying. It has taken a lot of years to reach the point that I don’t feel I need anyone’s permission to write what I want to write. I’ve heard published authors say that they had to write, that they couldn’t survive without it. I can relate to that in many ways, but I found a way to survive. I certainly didn’t thrive. I just put it away, all of it. I stopped writing stories, stopped writing bits of poetry and just stopped practicing.
I started this blog almost 12 years ago. I had a small group of other bloggers who would read and comment. And I liked that. I still like feedback. But even though I told myself I was writing on the blog as a way to practice my writing, it wasn’t really true. What I was actually doing was writing on the blog as a way to keep in contact with the world. I didn’t write about anything controversial and I rarely wrote about anything that was truly personal. When I did, I layered it with ambiguity, so that someone reading it didn’t really understand what I was talking about. That also allowed me to say “that person is wrong and doesn’t understand anything about me” when they made a point that I didn’t like.
It was a coward’s way out. And writers can’t be cowardly about their writing. They may feel cowardly and they may inwardly cringe when they see comments on their blog, or reviews about their book, but they still tell their truth. They put it all out there. I never did.
I don’t really know how to change that. It’s been 50 years a long time in the making. This writing challenge is a start. I’ve tried to be as honest as possible. I’ve tried to let my voice develop with the candor that both readers and I deserve. The first few days were kind of superficial and that’s okay. It will take time.
All of the pivotal points in my life, where I could have made a different decision that would have changed my path, were steps on this path. It takes what it takes, right? I never considered myself a person who takes risks. But in the last few months, I’ve taken all kinds of risks. I left a really good job (with a pension!). I left my hometown and drove across the country to a new place where I only know a few people. I have no job. But I’m not looking at all those things as risks (even though they are). I’m looking at this as an opportunity to make the life I want to live.
And that is a risk I’m willing to take.