“The Top Five Regrets of Dying” - Regret Number One
Regret Number One is, “I wish I’d had the courage to live the life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
I feel very emotional about this one. That was the reason why I said that this one is fucking difficult at the beginning of this cycle. I hesitated to write about it, because I’m not sure if I’m able to express myself as clear as I would like to.
I just watched the movie “Brooklyn” to put myself in the mood and to be able to write about it. This movie really resonates with me and it represents to me that first regret.
What makes this regret so difficult? Because it’s about capital-Y You. Only You. Thinking about this regret, you have to put your whole focus on you and look closely in the mirror (and not many people like to do it). And that can be very…unpleasant. Because being honest with yourself is usually unpleasant (if you’re truly honest). I can guess that some of you are probably confused. Because it’s easy to say what you want, right? It’s the easiest thing in the world, you’d think. You take a piece of paper and just write a long list of your wishes. How about if I asked you what kind of life you’ve imagined for yourself? What if I asked you - what life would be your dream life? What would you do in that life? Who would you be? Would you be still doing what you’re doing now? Would you pursuit your passion/hobby? Would you draw/take photos, play guitar/write/sing/explore the world as you always wanted to? What would you do?
And what if I asked you after that - so do you currently do what you just said you would? Have you ended up doing what you’d planned to years before? If not - what made you give up? Why did you stop chasing your dream? What price are you paying for giving up now? Are you happy with your choice?
The thing is that it is fucking difficult to live the life you wanted, because it requires sacrifices. To start doing what you’ve always wanted to do, you would have to go through some really uncomfortable situations, uncertainty, not to mention that you would let a lot of people down. It’s difficult to want new things or different experiences and not to hurt some people/your parents/your friends along the way. It’s fucking difficult to make this decision without any kind of certainty as to how this turns out for you. And without knowing if the sacrifices will be worth it.
I mentioned “Brooklyn,” because the main character did the same thing I did - left her country (Ireland) to live in Brooklyn (I’ve written about this movie here). I’ve written a lot about the difficulties of being an immigrant on JLNY, so I don’t want to write about it again. As the girl says in the movie, “living in NY is not glamorous,” and that’s true, but living here was my biggest dream. And I made it happen. And only I know what price I paid. Was it worth it? Yes, because I finally found myself. It took me five years, but I found my way back to myself. (And I don’t think that would’ve ever happened if I had stayed in Poland). Was I/am I always sure that it was/is worth it? No, I wasn’t and am still not. Would I change it? No, not at all. Have I ever regretted it? Taking into consideration all the hard times I went through here, all the tears and uncertainty - no, not even once. Because I know that this is what I wanted. That’s who I am, this is where I can finally be true to myself. Not many people understood my decision (some still don’t), but it doesn’t matter to me anymore. Because when I stand in front of the mirror I smile, and have no regrets. I took the risk and even though I still don’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel, I feel free.
As I said in my previous post - you can’t live the life that’s true to yourself and not to hurt anyone. It’s impossible. But you also can’t live the life others expect of you. You just can’t do it to yourself. You can’t keep pleasing others, even if they are your parents or closest friends. If they really love you, they will understand that you need this thing (whatever it is to you) to be alive.
And I want to tell you one thing - whatever that is that you regret not doing - you still can do it. If you’re still alive, you can still pursuit your dream. It might not be on a such big scale as you wanted it to be (or it still can), but it’s doable, it’s out there and it’s waiting for you to make this choice. And all it takes is your decision. You just have to make this choice. It’s fucking difficult, but I assure you - the regret of not doing it will hurt you more and will haunt you until the end of your life. And when you’re laying on your death bed that Bronnie Ware was writing about, you’ll remember her words. But this time, they’ll be coming out of your mouth. And you won't be able to do anything about that.
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