I’m not a person for regrets.
Ha, I only wish that were true. In fact, I regret a lot of things that I’ve done. I’m the kind of person who burns with shame for years after an embarrassing moment. I obsess over things I’ve left undone, because I am a massive procrastinator. For example, I still have not sent out all the thank you cards for my wedding, which was almost a year ago. Or one of my work friends retired a couple years ago, and sent me a lovely letter–an actual letter, on paper, and I never answered her. Because I am a gigantic punk. I hate myself for doing that.
But if you ask me whether there are things I wouldn’t do again, I struggle to think of any. Thinking about it, I’m the sort of person who doesn’t take no for an answer. In high school, where my procrastination got the best of me in a school of overachievers, I finished in the middle of the pack and got no awards for writing or English, much to my chagrin. So in college, I determined that I was going to work even harder and wound up with departmental distinction, magna cum laude, etc. I say this because dammit, I worked for that.
Sometimes I’m lucky and my tenacity pays off right away. Sometimes it doesn’t, so I just keep hammering at the target until it gives or I do. When I auditioned for Jeopardy I got into the contestant pool on my first try. A few years later, I decided to audition for Who Wants to be a Millionaire? I passed the test but screwed up the interview because I innocently asked how they selected contestants. My interviewer immediately got squinky and I wasn’t terribly surprised but was terribly disappointed when I got a card saying I wasn’t selected. (Pro tip: If you are ever trying to get on tv, don’t ask about their selection process. It is very secret society.) Nevertheless, I just went back and auditioned again the next year–and got on the show.
The one thing I thought I really would never do again is move for a guy. I did it once, after I graduated college, relocating to North Carolina to give my college romance a real world shot. The relationship was falling apart even before I got down there, and I gave up a chance to be an English adjunct in the south of France to give love a shot, but I swore I was being brave and fighting for love. When said boyfriend broke up with me very suddenly, I found myself in North Carolina very alone and friendless. When I got back to New York, I vowed I would never do something so stupid again, and I held to it. When MR and I started dating, I said very certainly he would have to move to NY if things were going to progress, and as he was fine with that plan, all seemed well. Until a friend pointed out, “That’s not fair. If you expect him to do that for you, you have to be willing to do that for him.” It was one of those moments where you hate someone for being right.
And now here I am, living in England, despite all my vows not to move for love. In the end, that was all I moved for. But what was a mistake in 2001 turned out to be a wise decision in 2012, because although I was leaving all the same important things behind, what I was going to was much greater–not a relationship I was willing to work with all my grit and might, but a partnership we were both invested in, which has turned into a successful marriage (so far).
So in the end I’m a bit leery of saying ‘never.‘ Never closes a lot of doors, and can cause some unnecessary stubbornness. And while some pride is good, and arguably necessary, too much holds you back from having the things you really want. If I had been so proud as to shake the dust of the Millionaire producers from my feet after the first go, I would not have won $25,000. If I had clung to a resolution I made in the flush of bitter heartbreak, I might not be married now. I almost certainly wouldn’t have a baby on the way.
This is why I watch repeats on tv. There is always something new to discover in something you think you’ve seen before.