‘No ragrets’ - it’s one of my favourite memes, my favourite tattoo disaster and my favourite go-to supportive saying for when I need to excuse some sort of bad behaviour (e.g. this is my third cupcake of the day - no ragrets, or yes I did just quadruple text my boyfriend about whether he really loves me or not because I’ve had three glasses of wine - no ragrets).
In short, no, I don't believe that you should live your life without regrets. I don’t believe that allowing yourself to regret your own crappy actions or your own crappy decisions necessarily means that you’ll live your life in the past; instead, having regrets simply means you’ve learned from what’s gone wrong, and upon reflection, you wish you’d done it differently. I know there are a lot of fluffy Pinterest quotes which run along the lines of ‘you should never regret anything in life - if it’s good, it’s wonderful and if it’s bad, it’s experience’ (and I just spent 5 minutes of my life seeking this out, so I know it’s legit), but just because you’ve managed to salvage something remotely positive in the form of ‘experience’, doesn’t mean that you can’t regret what happened in the first place.
Regret is too often positioned as something wholly negative, but there have been various points in my young life that I can now look back on and wish I had navigated differently. Whether it be my own actions or how circumstances aligned at a certain point in time, there are a few things that I do regret, and wonder how my life might be different if I got the chance to re-do now.
That’s not to say I want to change my life now. I’ve seen enough cheesy time-travelling films to know that one seemingly insignificant change in the past could alter the entire course of history, and as Keiran always likes to remind me, if anything had panned out differently I might not live in our lovely house with his lovely butt and my lovely job (it's not lovely all of the time, but it is pretty sweet), so this exercise is purely for reflection, and for the sake of regretting my regrets for what they are - exactly that, regrets. Let's take a trip down memory lane, shall we?
This post was sponsored by Henry London.
After three years together, my first boyfriend and I broke up in possibly the most understated way ever. We’d been on and off for a couple of months beforehand, and then one day we spoke on the phone whilst I was at uni, and decided to call it a day. It was literally the most chilled conversation either. We were both pretty morose, but neither of us cried, and we continued to text over the next few days as if nothing had really changed. We’d split briefly before and I think we’d both kind of assumed that we’d always end up back together, but this time around, I knew my heart wasn’t it in anymore. I started seeing someone else pretty quickly afterwards, and to this day, one of my greatest regrets is not letting go of my past relationship sooner.
It’s very easy when you break up with someone to cling on to the memories and feelings and familiarity of what you once shared, but in doing so, I was doing more harm than good and ultimately hurting the person that I’d spent three years of my life growing up with. I was so caught up in this bubble of ‘but he wants to see me, so why shouldn't I?’, that I wasn't able to see how much more painful drawing things out was on both of us.
I wish I had acted differently, and I wish I had been kinder. Letting go was difficult so I didn’t want to do it, and as genuine as that seemed at the time, I was prioritising my own emotions before that of my ex-boyfriends, and that wasn’t fair.
Your first love and your first long-term relationship are always going to be messy in some respects, because you’re both finding your feet in the minefield that is dating another living, breathing, flawed human being. But what I learned was in fact one of the biggest cliches of all time - sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind, both for yourself and for a person that you care about.
This one is a strange one. I’ve written about dropping out of university before and why I don’t regret taking the decision to cut loose from something that was making me so miserable, and whilst I still feel the same, a part of me has always wondered ‘what if?’.
What if my circumstances were been different? What if I’d have not allowed myself to run away to my friend’s house or my boyfriend’s house whenever I felt slightly alone? What if I’d have spent a couple more weeks pushing myself to become a part of the ‘uni experience’, instead of deciding that I was already outside of it?
For context, I was accepted in my dream university despite being one grade below the entry requirements (obviously my hilarious personal statement won them over). This was the uni I had wanted to go to for years - I even cried when I checked UCAS and saw that I had been accepted. I went with a head full dreams, and bag full of noodles but a heart full of home and boyfriend, which I’ve no doubt upset me settling in properly. Ultimately, I was really unhappy. I hadn't formed any strong friendships, I wasn't enamoured with the content of my course and my room in halls was expensive and old af. Nothing about it made me want to stay, apart from that longing to fulfill my dream and live up to expectations and just basically do what I'd always thought I wanted to do.
I absolutely do not regret quitting, but a little part of my does regret the circumstances. It probably wasn't wise to get into my first serious relationship a month before we moved hundreds of miles away from one another. It also probably wasn't wise to not try to and engage in more of the social side of university, even if it was hard and I felt totally out of place (I was suddenly v. v. aware of how working class my background was). I will admit that sometimes I wonder 'what if' - how would my life be different now?
Lightening the mood a little bit, I really regret not trying more meat before I turned vegetarian (turned vegetarian? Became a vegetarian? Makes me sound like I'm part of some vampire cult).
I've been veggie for around four years now, and I gradually phased out meat and fish in stages so I didn't go cold turkey (there's some kind of pun in there, I'm sure) and to make it easier for me to transition from an omnivore to a veggie. First to get the cut was red meat, then white meat, and then soon after fish. Since then I've been living the life of mushrooms-in-everything and the holy grail that is Linda McCartney sausages.
I get asked all the time if I miss meat, and the answer is YES. Meat is delicious. If I found out I was going to die tomorrow, I'd sprint to McDonalds and order three cheeseburgers before stacking them on top of one another and blitzing them in one short sesh. Every time I smell apple and pork sausages sizzling away for dinner, I shoot my veggie alternatives a begrudging look before sitting next to the oven and inhaling that sweet, sausagey goodness. The thing is, I didn't give up meat because I didn't like the taste, I just felt that if I could make a small, positive difference to the world somehow, then I should.
With that being said, I do regret not trying more meat before I turned veggie. I've never had a proper steak, I've never had lobster, I've never tried scallops (this is the one that really gets me, because I love Hell's Kitchen and Gordon Ramsey seems to be obsessed with them) - I have a list as long as my arm of foods I've never eaten and now probably never will, and as a person that absolutely adores trying new food, this is very much regrettable. You can put away the straight jackets because I'm not going to relapse and start shovelling 3 KFC Bargain Buckets into my mouth, I just wish I'd tried a few more things before I couldn't, that's all (I also really miss corned beef - I know some people find it gross, so I'm hoping at least one of you will agree on how delicious it is).