Too often people trumpet their lack of regrets. Maybe they’re getting a divorce or quitting a job or lying on their deathbed—or simply arrogant enough to believe they have the ability to live entirely in the present. These people say “no regrets” and expect admiration, when really they’re just being childish.
Every adult is weighed down by a suffocating allotment of regret—it’s what makes us human, and what teaches us to modify our future behaviors. It’s why we weep, and why we persist in weeping. Maybe some people think it’s possible to make a mistake without paying their dues in regret, that they can simply absolve themselves of this burden through sheer willpower. Sorry, that’s not how the system works. When you make a mistake, you can’t just arbitrarily decide to not regret it. It is understandable that you fear the negative emotions associated with guilt, remorse, humiliation, and disappointment, but you cannot merely wish those things away. When you say “no regrets,” all I hear is, “I have the emotional maturity of a third grader.”
Personally, I can scarcely spit on a homeless man without feeling some small measure of regret. I do not hide from my regret; I truckle to it, and live in constant fear of it, and desperately seek to avoid amassing anymore of it, with the knowledge that I inescapably will, nearly every day. In retrospect, I’ve lived a life unduly burdened by doubt, shame, and especially regret. And this is something I regret very deeply.