In the tenth grade, I took a class on creative writing. I hated writing, but I needed to fulfill some sort of credit requirement towards something or other and I had the option of choosing from different options and I chose this class. I hated the writing (I might have mentioned that already…lol), but I enjoyed the teacher. Well, there is one thing about this class that stood out more than anything else. The teacher brought in a list of quotes by different people, one day, and asked each student to choose one quote and write about it. I don’t honestly remember what quote I chose, nor what I chose to write about; but there was one quote that stands out in my mind and it is a quote that has perplexed me – and I know I didn’t choose it as my topic.
The quote: “Live a life without regret.”
I could not even tell you who deserves the credit for this quote (As you might have noticed, my blog is very free-thinking, I rarely cite anything), but it has stood out in my mind, since I first heard it. There comes a time in a lot of people’s lives, when they can see the things they should have done with their lives. In a lot of ways, I have nothing I should feel regret for doing; but there are many things I do feel regret – and most of those have to do with not doing something I felt nervous about.
For example, I have always lived my life with a heightened sense of risk awareness – I tend to take the road that is commonly traveled. Granted, that wasn’t always the case – especially during my young adult years – but over the predominant portion of my life, I tended to make decisions that would be acceptable to others. I can give a whole list of examples where that was the case, but there are three particular ones that stand out in my mind over the past few days.
In 1990, I was accepted and enrolled in a school for engineering. I wanted to be a Chemical Engineer, because I found mathematics to be an exciting topic and was very adept at chemistry. During high school, I had a strong interest in protecting the environment and I had every intention of enrolling in school to learn about cleaning and treating water – not just waste water for municipal use, but treating natural water sources. I had this idealistic mentality that I needed to be focused on one of earth’s most treasured resources: water. Unfortunately, I was also beginning to make mistakes in my young life, dealing with the fallout of my parent’s divorce and engaging in a relationship with a woman that was not healthy for either of us. As a result, I dropped out of college and pursued a different career. Eventually, I returned to college, finished my degree, and went to work in the oil & gas industry. Granted, I had started a family by this time and felt that my life was no longer my own and that I owed it to my family to provide for them the best way I could – I found a job in an industry that paid well. There are a lot of feelings in this topic that I could discuss, but ultimately my point is this: I regret not sticking to my dreams at the time I formed them. I feel like water treatment, water sustainability, and all things water are going to be the “new oil”. In fact, over the past 10-15 years, there has been drastic increases in technology, business development and interest in water reclamation, water treatment, and water conservation. I feel like it was something I should have trusted myself on. It felt like a gamble at the time, and I can look back now and think to myself that I was too short-sighted. It would have been the greatest place to put myself, in terms of a career.
Another thing I regret is the fact that I never pursued what I wanted in relationships. I never sought what I was afraid of not getting. For example, there was an episode of How I Met Your Mother, where the characters are discussing that every relationship has a reacher and a settler. Some people settle and some people reach – I am a settler. I settle for what I can accept and I rarely reach for what I want. On the one had, it makes me think that I’m the kind of asshole that thinks he’s better than he really is, but on the other hand I wonder if this idea is part of the reason I have so much anxiety and disappointment with myself. There are so many different situations that I have pondered the idea of “What if?” and then settled because it was safe. I once had a date with a woman, many years ago, who told me that the reason I struggle in relationships is because I’m too afraid to take a leap of faith. I know I have mentioned that my marriage struggles at times, and sometimes I know it’s because I don’t set any healthy boundaries within my relationship that will demonstrate that I have a set of standards that I know will make me happy. I’ve often wondered if I stay because I’m terrified of pursuing what may or may not make me happy. I’ve often wondered, if I’m happy, but I don’t allow myself that option because of other things within the marriage. And then, I often wonder, if I really am the ass-wipe I feel like I am in the marriage.
Another thing that was on my mind the past few days is my sexuality. Even as often as I discuss it on this blog, there are times I am reluctant to discuss it for fear of the insinuation that I should leave my marriage and come out as gay – because that’s what I really am, right (This is a common misconception a lot of bisexuals face – the idea that we are in transition)? Sometimes, however, I think I missed out on the opportunity to explore this side of myself. What if I would have accepted my sexuality? Did I hide myself for the right reasons? There are so many things I regret about this, it’s hard to wrap my mind around them. I have finally come to a point in my life that I don’t regret what I have done, but there are things that I regret not doing or exploring. I know there is always the idea that I could do it now, right? I could up and change my life drastically and do what I want, but at the same time, I think that I am not really interested in being selfish either.
Of course, the alternative to regrets are action, right? The old adage that I could shit or get off the pot comes to mind, as I write this post. I mean, if I feel like I want to be into dealing with water conservation issues, there is nothing stopping me, but myself. As to my marriage? Well, I can be me. I don’t have to continue to allow things to happen when I don’t want them too, right? I can begin standing up for myself, right? These are things I can do, I don’t have to accept less than what’s best for myself, if I don’t want to. And my sexuality is solely on me to accept or not accept about myself, right? A year ago, my therapist had told me that labeling it may not be what’s best for me. Maybe I need to just accept my experiences. Truly, I find the label to be somewhat comforting, because it allows me to understand myself – I tend to be a black and white thinker, afterall. But I do know that I have come to a place in my life where I can admit that I like what I like – and sometimes it’s nice broad shoulders with a well defined physique and sometimes it’s some T & A. It is what it is and it doesn’t have to be anything I have to feel horrible about.