Sunday, June 12, 2011

no regrets

Last week I saw this article about the top 5 regrets people had on their deathbed. Interesting food for thought.

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

I don't think I've ever had this regret. I've done some amazing things on my own volition, and while there are more things I wish I had done, I'm pretty happy with how I've directed my life and where it's taken me. Planning for the future has never been something I could do; instead things come into my life in random ways and affect decisions and I end up somewhere interesting.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

Thankfully I don't have this regret anymore, since I'm not teaching. But I definitely had it while at First Charter School two school years ago. I was making great money and had absolutely no time or energy to spend it. I never got to see friends and my poor boyfriend was helpless, watching me be exhausted all the time. It made me miserable. Last year, at Charter Elementary School, I was working the same kind of hours, though once the late winter/early spring came around, I refused to spend the extra daylight trapped in my classroom. I was no longer making great money, but I tried to be healthier in having an outside life.

Now I'm working part-time-ish-almost-full-time but for not a lot of money, and I'm totally fine with that. I have freedom, great people at work that I actually get to talk to (unlike all those great teachers I've 'worked with' who I barely get to say hi to in the halls once a week), I don't have to take anything home with me (physically or mentally), and a lot of times work is kind of fun.

I'm at the point in my life where I want to enjoy work but also enjoy life. I kind of feel like a lazy for saying it, but I don't want to work twelve hours a day. I want to have a job that I like with regular hours, so that I can have a real work/life balance.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

I'm pretty good there, I think.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

I've never had tons of friends, and again, in the last couple school years it was difficult to maintain friendships and get-togethers, especially when they did things on weeknights. Which is why one of my goals in 2010 was to be more social. I ended up being quite social, seeing people on most weekends. 2011 has been much quieter, partly because I'm poorer.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have sillyness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

This really resonates with me. Sometimes I'm afraid that I put too much emphasis on what has been or what could be, not what *is*. I feel happiness more in retrospect than in present. I fondly remember all the extra time I had when teaching in a public school. I get nostalgic about our adventures in AmeriCorps. Often I think about how great life will be when we leave New York and move into a cheaper place with a garage and a washer/dryer. But I also want to realize when I enjoy life right here and now. We live in a great apartment, with a beautiful view, and we've slowly starting decorating it. Subways and errands are only a few minutes' walk away. I do know some great people here that I've built a history with. Some elements of life are really easy in New York, though some are much, much harder. I need to work on being in and appreciating the here and now.

I was perusing ye olde blogge archives this morning and was struck by how much I used to post, and that I had things to say. I wish I'd found time to blog more last year while teaching; there was a lot going on and it might have been helpful then and later to have some details to look back upon.

So perhaps I will try (again) to post more often and more meaningfully. I do have thoughts and memories to share.


Angela said...

I feel like I could have written this post myself. Only the 5th regret resonated with me, and for the same reasons it does for you. I am just beginning to explore how happiness is here right now if we are willing to let ourselves experience it. We have to let go of the expectations and demands on the moment and simply be...

Anonymous said...

A year ago I linked you to a post I wrote and so decided to come back and see how you are doing. It looks like you are doing very well and I'm pleased to see that you are doing things YOU want to do.

I like this list as it is something I wish I had really considered when I was in my late 20s, early 30s. I did, however, in my mid 30s decided to change direction and become a teacher which was a good career choice for so many years.

In my mid 50s I decided I needed to make some changes to remain happy, and so retired from teaching. I'm still trying to figure out my path, but I am certainly happy with what I am doing.

I envy you the apartment and location. That was a dream I had for San Francisco, but without a job, I could not swing it on a teacher's pension.