Regret and guilt

You know the saying excuses are like noses, everyone’s got one? I think a similar thing goes along with regret. Everyone has something in their life that they regret. It isn’t necessarily a big thing, most of us only have small regrets. As time goes on, the regrets get smaller. For instance, as I graduated high school not at the top of my class, I regretted slacking off and not doing homework assignments. Now, as I graduate college, I couldn’t tell you where in my class I was in high school. Somewhere in the 60-70 range I believe. The difference is that I don’t look back and regret not doing better in high school. People may glance at the GPA on my resume, but it’s not that big of an issue.

The problem is having regrets that stay with you and turn into guilt. If you want a silly example, I once kicked my dog. I was aboutĀ nine and didn’t know how to properly express anger. I recall feeling immediately guilty and hugging my dog in apology. I still get a twinge of guilt when I think about the incident. Clearly, I still regret kicking my dog 12 years ago.

I am graduating college on Saturday. I have regrets, but none have turned into guilt yet. Recent events with some (former) friends top my list of regrets. I am completely responsible for burning those bridges. Honestly, though, I didn’t see our friendship lasting past the summer, if that. We were just too different from each other. I regret my actions, but I didn’t do things cavalierly. Everything I did and said I believed in, at least at the time. So maybe I don’t regret my actions. Maybe I regret what I lost as a result of my actions. I don’t really regret much in college, looking back now. I never went out and partied, but I’m too introverted and legal-minded to get involved in that scene. There were some classes I could have tried harder in, but that is becoming like the high school scenario. Besides, I did learn from skipping class freshman year. I learned that my grade will be lower than I expect, even if I know the material. I don’t regret getting involved in my extra curricular activities. As much as RHA frustrated me, I have way more good memories than bad. That was really the only thing I got involved in, and I don’t regret not doing more.

Thankfully for myself, regret is different from guilt over past actions. If everything I regretted I also felt guilty about I don’t think I’d be able to function. Guilt, I think, stems from regret when you realize that you never have a chance to change things. I can always go back to college and get better grades, so I don’t feel guilty. My dog died, so I never have another chance to show her my love.

In the end, there are things that can be done with regret and guilt. You can wallow in them and it will consume your life. The other option is to take all you regret and guilt, accept it, and move on. I am a huge fan of quotes. Clearly, famous people, singers and poets will always be smarter than me. Anyway, one quote is from the musical Rent: forget regret or life is yours to miss. The second is a song, with which I will end this post.

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