Active and passive regrets

Yesterday, I posted that one of my favorite blogs is The Happiness Project. I suppose this reason is because it deals with the opposite of what I struggle with (depression). Again, author Gretchen Rubin posts a provoking thought:

Apparently people regret not taking an action more than they regret taking an action. Gilbert speculates that that’s because it’s easier to console ourselves with the lessons learned by some action gone awry than to see the good that came from the failure to act. I find this is completely true. I am always beating myself up over something I never did:

·       "I regret not putting off marriage for a year or two so I could launch my career."

·       "I regret not being able to live in New York a little longer."

·       "I regret leaving NYU."

·       "I regret leaving my mother to fend for herself with her bills."

But like Rubin says, I don’t regret the things that I’ve done:

·       I don’t regret getting married.

·       I don’t regret moving to Kentucky for a short while.

·       I don’t regret moving to Pennsylvania.

·       I don’t regret working at any of the places that I’ve worked.

·       I don’t regret staying out of NYC after 9/11.

·       I don’t regret trying a Christian college in Florida.

·       I don’t regret taking a chance on love and making it work.

There are things that I will always regret; things that I’ll never know how it could have worked if I’d actually pursued it. But some of it isn’t just regret and for the most part, it’s nothing that I can’t ever do again if I really wanted to. Much of it leaves me with hopes for the future.

My husband occasionally asks me, "Do you regret marrying me?" or "Do you ever feel that I’m holding you back?"

Such questions are not answered right away or easily. Immediately, I insist to my husband, "No, I don’t regret marrying you" because hesitation would imply that I do. And hesitation doesn’t always confirm a positive or negative answer. Hesitation confirms that the recipient of the question is deeply in thought, mulling over the question, the answer to the question and the questioner’s possible reaction to the answer.

After having the question asked to me many times over the past 11 months of our marriage, I have had many times to think about it and my answer is…


No, I don’t regret marrying my husband. However, if he asked whether I’d do it again when I did it, I’d hesitate once again. I think of the many opportunities that lay before me in the beginning of August 2005. I had just finished working at a prestigious black publication, feeling that the world (NYC mainly) lay before me. I often think that if a wedding hadn’t been looming over my head at the end of August, I would have pursued a number of opportunities to get my foot in the door at a magazine. A year later, who knows where I’d be?

But if I truly reflect and flashback to March 2005, my two-year relationship had become rocky. I’d been on anti-depressants for just over a year and my depression had led me to cut off contact with a number of friends, become anti-social and cut back on activities to such an extreme that I focused on school only. Even with being focused solely on academics, I still went from an "A" student to a "C+." The "+" being for effort, of course, since I’d spoken to my teachers about my struggle with depression.

In March of 2005, I faced a decision: I either had to choose my relationship or choose my career. I obtained the opportunity to take an editing test and jumpstart my editorial career by working at Newsday, the largest daily paper on Long Island. It is not often that college graduates (or seniors, for that matter) get the chance to jump the ground floor and start working in the editorial sector of a major media company (Newsday is owned by the Tribune Company, which also owns the Chicago Tribune).

Here, I am faced with a tinge of regret: I can’t help but wonder what my life would have been like had I been able to launch a career in newspapers, skipping the normal college grad route: being a first-class lackey or assistant.

The day of my editing test, I made my decision. I purposely overslept. If I wanted to, I could have gotten up to take the test. Taking the test didn’t guarantee me a job with the newspaper, but it guaranteed that I would have been in the running for a job.

Despite my depression, I know my skills and I know my worth. I’d taken a preliminary editing test that wowed some of the recruiters from Newsday. I knew that if I went any further, I’d get to a point where I had to either accept a 2-year-position with Newsday (one year would keep me on Long Island, the other year could take me anywhere within the Tribune Co. from the LA Times to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel) or accept a lifetime of love with my boyfriend.

I flooded my head with a plethora of thoughts: "Love conquers all," "love is the only thing that matters," "Love, charity and hope, but the greatest of these is love." Then I tried to think about what could be better than a flourishing, bright career at the spry age of 24? Love.

Friends called me crazy. "Why are you leaving New York for Kentucky? And for a guy??? Why would anyone want to leave New York?" Adults told me I was rushing into things. "You’re only 24. Focus on your career. Do all the things you ever wanted to do before you get married because you won’t get to do them."

Torn between the feeling of love and opportunity, I chose love with the hope that I’d recover opportunity. I’m still hoping against hope for opportunity.

So while I don’t regret marrying my husband (he’s the most wonderful man I could have ever asked for), I somewhat regret my timing. But considering I’m overanalytical, I wonder when my timing could have been any better. When I was finally settled in a job and in NY and never ready to leave? We’d have never gotten married. And I never would have taken a chance at being as happy as I am today. So I always feel a tinge of regret on the action I never took.

And it’s true, I can’t do all the things that I wanted to do now that I’m married. So while I don’t regret marrying, I do regret not being able to do the things that I’ve always wanted to do.

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