There’s this saying that you don’t regret the things you did—you regret what you didn’t do. You regret the friendships you never forged and the experiences you never tried. The newness of it all and the novelty of what you haven’t tried will, in themselves, make whatever it is “worth it.”
But what if it doesn’t need to be worth it?
I’ve opened my heart to people who misused it. I’ve tried new drinks and wished I’d just ordered my usual drink. If I could take some of those things back, maybe I would. Because it wasn’t worth it.
But so what? Why do things have to be worth it for us to try them?
I know life is easier when we only do what is “worth” our enjoyment. I’m a person who finds happiness easily in little things—a scene from my favorite show, a three-second interaction with a puppy, a cup of my favorite beverage. Because of this, I fall easily into comfortable routines. I’ll order the same drink from the same place every day for a decade and never tire of it. I’ll rewatch the same scenes from the same show 40 times, quote every word and sigh and breath by heart, and still enjoy it.
I’ve gotten so careful, so much so that my friends and family have gotten used to me suddenly standing still in public settings, paralyzed with indecision while I weigh the pros and cons and listen as my heart argues with my brain (or as my id argues with my ego, for folks who know the psychology terms).
So, I’ve taken it upon myself to do it first and consider later. If I’m not sure whether I want to try something new (assuming it’s not horribly unhealthy or dangerous), rather than giving myself time to weigh all the pros and cons, I just go for it. I remind myself that it’s easier to regret not having tried something than to regret trying something and hating it, because true regret, for me, is wondering what was and could have been.
I want to live a life I won’t regret—in terms of hurting others, or doing harmful actions, or maybe even hurting myself too much. But otherwise, I don’t want to live my life like a business transaction, saying only the things that will benefit me, forging only the friendships that are likely to succeed, trying only the things I’ve known and liked. I want to look back on things and say “Yes, that was horrible, but I tried it. And now I know.”
Maybe that’s the writer brain in me speaking, knowing I can use my experiences in my work. But maybe that’s just me, and maybe that’s the part of me that aids my writing. Maybe it doesn’t matter, because in the long run, not much does. My time isn’t only spent on worthwhile things. My tears aren’t shed only for meaningful people and meaningful experiences. And that’s okay.
So if I try it and hate it, I’ll stop. If I regret it, I won’t do it again. If it hurts, I’ll try to move on. That’s the cruelest and nicest thing about life—it’ll keep going, and everything will fade, for better or for worse. At least we can try to make it work for the better, right?