Is it okay to have regrets?
Last night, I dreamt that my best friend from junior high school and I had decided to end our friendship.
Nowadays, we just stay in touch through social media, but in the dream, we had carried on thick as thieves. I opened my eyes and felt warm tears falling out of them.
Dreams are always quite ironic, you know? The dream was basically a repeat of a fight she and I would have in those days. It was seventh grade.
I don’t remember what she did that upset me so badly, but I was so hurt I was crying my eyes out and telling her on the phone that we couldn’t be friends anymore.
I don’t remember why we were ending our friendship in the dream either. I moved away the same year, which ended up being a difficult transition.
I was devastated by this dream. It was like reliving it again. That’s pretty nuts—when you wake up with real tears! My emotions were all sad and thinking about goodbyes. Just like they are right now.
I am missing and thinking of friends who I haven’t seen in at least six years. My nostalgia is running deep. I’m probably romanticizing some things, but there were some damn good times. I know I’m not dying, but it feels so much like death.
I said goodbye to my ex; I said goodbye to my best friend and mentor; I said goodbye to the streets I’ve driven so long, and goodbye to my bandmates and girlfriends.
I guess this is what moving far away feels like. It feels like death—like goodbye. I guess I’d just forgotten since it’s been a while. My stomach feels like it’s churning a stew of regrets from the past and fears for the future.
When I moved away from my junior high best friend, that was pretty much that. I don’t think I had the tools or time to feel my feelings then. I know how devastated I must have been, but I mostly kept it in.
I cry today for that. I have only seen her one time since then. It was back in high school, and my homie drove me there. We stayed for an outdoor party she had on her family property.
It’s hard—ending things and walking away. I have barely seen some of my best friends here in Los Angeles in the last 10 years. That is crazy.
Life happens, and then, where are you?
You send a text here and there, or maybe get in touch if you’re in the area?
When she and I were together, we had so much fun! We had our differences about some things, but it never got in the way. For example, she was a pitcher and super into softball.
I was a dorky class clown who wasn’t “good” and didn’t take softball seriously. We had a blast anyway! We would stay at my house on weekends if we wanted to be in town, and when we stayed at her house, we were out in the country. (We pretty much always went to her house.)
We were usually trying to hang out with her older brother and his best friend, who was also over at their house a lot. They were two years older than us and cute and fun, but they were sometimes ruthless with us. We all used to ride around on four-wheelers.
One day, she and I were doing our own thing; we rode them up to where they had just put a camper next to the pond, and we went in to check it out. Next thing you know, the boys locked us in the camper!
They thought it was quite hilarious. And I was too embarrassed to say much else besides a rational, “Come on guys, let us out.” She was more comfortable showing her emotions and yelling at them, “This isn’t funny! Let us out of here! I have to pee! What am I supposed to do?!”
We didn’t have cell phones yet, so I think she just held it till they finally let us out.
There’s a comfort in having that best friend. You know where you stand, and you have someone you trust—someone you can share things with. It feels like you belong.
I also loved how her parents, grandparents, and siblings were so used to seeing me. I still have a huge love for the entire family after all these years.
I guess this is how I feel about Los Angeles, too, and the life of my past.
I regret that I had to move away from her in junior high (though it wasn’t my fault). I regret that time I was rude and told her I didn’t want to be friends anymore. But I don’t regret the rest of it. And look at us now; we are fine. Our lives just went in different directions, and that is okay.
I always thought it was bad to say you regret something. Why else would people say “no regrets?” Clearly, you are stronger, tougher, more-wise if you have none?
All of a sudden, this whole ending thing has me thinking about the past and regrets. The dream just made it more clear. A couple of days later, an old friend told me that he was in love with me when we were young. I was floored. He was cool and fun, but he was a friend. I would’ve never thought he could like me (but I don’t know why).
I wish he told me back then, but apparently, he felt the same way. I was 19 years old; we were roommates and close friends. I lived there but dated the guy who showed the most interest in me. (This happened to be his friend—his much older friend who was equal parts intelligent and belligerent).
Yes, I do regret that. I just went with the pull of the waves at that time. It took me years of living and dating to start making my own choices instead of dating whoever was around and decided that I was their girlfriend.
After he told me this, I felt so many regrets. Not that I would do anything about it now. I don’t feel the same way about him after all these years, and I’m with someone else.
Still, I regret that I was such a different person and didn’t realize how precious my time was. Hindsight is 20/20, and I wish I dated him back then.
While hiking with a friend recently, I asked, “Do you think it’s okay to have regret?”
He answered with an emphatic, “If you didn’t have any regrets, you didn’t learn anything.”
I think that’s really the answer.
We all will regret things that we had to learn from, but the regret takes a different shape through the years, eventually molding itself into a personal ballad of stories and truth.
But, also, I don’t have to be so hard on the younger me. Back in those days, I was trying to find myself, and learning things the hard way was part of it. Trying on different shoes and seeing what fits. I am not the same person I was in seventh grade or at 19.
So, in the end, how do I feel? Yes, it is good to learn from things that may feel like regret, but it’s not good to beat yourself up.
Life is contradictory. It is short and long. It can be joyful and devastating. I am so grateful to be alive and for every lesson learned on the way.
I am also grateful for the ability to be reflective and learn from past mistakes. And I know, until I learn the lesson, I will keep running into the same issue.
As long as we are alive, we have the ability to learn and love.
Thank you to everyone who is patient with the people they love (and themselves) as we all try and navigate this life the best we can.