Have you seen the Tracey Ullman bit where she plays a dying woman, surrounded by her loved ones, who claims that her biggest regret was not taking more photos of her lunch and putting them online?
No? You can find it on YouTube. Go ahead and watch it… I’ll wait.
Done? Great! Now, where were we?
Oh, yes, regrets. While the Tracey Ullman bit was obviously meant for laughs and was intended to be silly, it made me pause and consider my regrets. Do I have any? What are they? Is there still time to turn things around? Furthermore, since this is 2020 and hindsight is 20/20, it seemed fitting to reflect on this topic.
I take plenty of food photos, so I’ve got that one covered.
Haircuts? Yes, I’ve regretted a haircut or two or 10, and yet, I suspect this falls into the bad decision category.
College loans? This one is complicated. Yes, making those payments year after year is painful, but I cannot regret the things I learned while attending Boston University or the experiences that shaped the woman I am today.
Feeling conflicted, I wondered, “What do we humans regret?”
According to a 2019 online article by Sarah Crow titled “50 Regrets All Too Common Among People Over 50” (bestlifeonline.com/most-common-regrets), some of our most common regrets, in no particular order, include:
1. Lack of education;
2. Working too much;
3. Not taking vacations;
4. Not saving more;
5. Not traveling more;
6. Wasting time hating yourself and worrying about other people’s opinions;
7. Not eating healthier;
8. Not taking better care of yourself;
9. Letting friendships fizzle out;
10. Taking life too seriously.
The list is, sadly, long, and sadder still, I found myself nodding at a number of these. Some, like not taking vacations and not traveling more, I feel good about. My husband, Roger, and I do take vacations and we do prioritize travel. So, check and check!
And, let’s see… eating healthy… check. We plan weekly menus and cook most nights.
Letting friendships fizzle out? Nope! While I may not always be the most attentive friend – I blame winter and graduate school – I do make an effort to coordinate occasional gatherings, meet up with friends at social events and arrange exercise dates.
Lack of education? It’s not lack of education that I regret or even tackling the master’s program in which I am currently enrolled (two more classes!!). I regret not starting sooner — when I was younger and less tired.
And finally, anyone who has read this column for the past 10-plus years knows that I do my best to not take life too seriously.
So, that’s 6 out of 10.
It’s a start, but what about the others…
Working too much: Guilty! As a professional woman, I have sometimes felt that I have to work twice as hard as my male peers, and as a result, I have prioritized work. I’m working to change that.
Not saving more: I wish I had been more financially literate in my youth rather than having to learn by making a mistake or two. Now in my 40s, I feel behind on saving for emergencies and retirement. Also, see college loans as previously noted. In addition, I wish I had spent less money on disposable clothing. Mothers, grandmothers, aunts, etc. please teach the young women in your care to value quality over quantity.
Wasting time hating yourself and worrying about other people’s opinions: I excel at this! Less so now than in my youth, but still, I am my own worst critic. I have days where I silently berate myself for not being skinnier, taller, prettier, etc. But, I also believe you have to fake it ‘til you make it, so, fake fabulous, I keep telling myself!
Not taking better care of yourself: Diet, exercise, and unfortunate habits, like smoking, are the usual culprits. I would add skin care and wellness. I have never been a smoker, but I did take my youthful metabolism for granted and got a little lazy with the exercise. Now in my 40s, I try to walk at least a mile every day along with other workouts including swimming, weights and yoga. As to skin care, I used a bunch of cheap and varied products when I was younger, which confused my skin and exacerbated problems. I stopped doing that after an intervention from my dermatologist. And, a few years ago I started getting massages every six weeks for maintenance.
So, yes, I have some regrets. That’s only natural and I do try to learn from them; however, I hope in another 40 years I can look back and proudly and loudly quote Betty White, who said, “I have no regrets at all. None. I consider myself to be the luckiest old broad on two feet.”