Letters to myself: Have you ever wanted to start all over again?

I have and it’s not a good feeling. I’m not talking about baking the cake again because I forgot the eggs. I’m referring to feelings of regret. I wish I had done this and not that. Can we start over? The answer is almost always “no”.

When I was in high school, I thought acting, singing and dancing were fun. I was pretty good at all of them, and so pursued this area as a career. Problem was, a lot of other people were doing the same, and they were far more talented and disciplined than I. Rather than stepping up my game, I wandered and allowed my efforts to be half-baked. For years, I waited tables, went to the occasional audition and wasted a lot of time. When I finally switched focus and began working in a field for which I was more well suited, I wasted time mourning the loss of those years. Again and again, I yearned for the chance to start over. Couldn’t I just go back, to after high school, choose a college where I could study journalism, and become the next Christiane Amanpour or Arianna Huffington? If I could start over, everything would be perfect.

I can’t start over and it’s only recently that I’m forcing myself to accept this and move on, to not make the same mistake over and over of wasting present moments – moments of opportunity – on regret. I’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano. “I wish I’d started lessons ten years ago”, I’ve thought. Now, I try and tell myself that if I begin now, in ten years I’ll be able to sit down at the Christmas party and wow the guests. Those ten years will come to pass anyway (God willing), whether I’m practicing my scales or not.

The bottom line is we can’t start all over again, much as we’d often like to. I wish I’d realized it sooner.

– Althea