September 16th, 2010

Looking back, there are so many things I could regret:

*  Starbucks Pumpkin Loaf (7 Weight Watcher points!)

* All the shoes whose price would have made a nice contribution to my 401K.

* Losing sleep over hate mail from readers of our magazine who feel free to spew in email but would never say such nasty things to my face.

* Not going to Austin City Music Festival the year I had tickets.

* buying the expensive blue sequined tank top that made me look like I was wearing a postmenopausal Kevlar vest.

* buying the expensive black suit that made me look like a nun working with juvenile delinquents.

But those are so minor–if I have one big regret, it’s not daring enough, not trying enough, not risking enough. Especially after my kids were on their own. It’s so easy to let inertia settle you into a way of life. So easy to think you have enough time time to try XYZ next year. So easy to justify not doing something. I’m a true introvert, and living in my head is really satisfying for me. I love to read and dream and imagine, all from the safety of my home. But I also see how much I’ve missed out on by not forcing myself out into the world more. Introverts tend to get drained by social interactions, but we need it nevertheless. It’s like bringing a kill back to the cave — we have to have things to gnaw on or our brains get starved. And every time I’ve gone against my grain, I’ve been better off for it. Eventually. It’s just hell while it’s happening! Travel? Oh my god, so terrifying and shattering. But also enlivening, enriching, indispensable to my self-confidence. In hindsight, I wish I’d terrified myself so much more.

5 Responses to “Hindsight”

  1. m. heart says:

    I’m the same way and have been thinking about this a lot lately – how I daydream about being daring and traveling but when the opportunity actually presents itself I run away with my tail between my legs, coming up with a million excuses for why I shouldn’t and can’t. I really want to break through that wall more often but instead fall back to the comfort zone…

  2. Laurie Skiba says:

    Nikki, the small regrets (postmenopausal Kevlar vest as fashion statement!) made me laugh, and the overarching one (not being daring enough) resonated with me down to my toes. I grew up in a family whose parents’ M.O. was to keep everything safe for us kids. Really crappy things happened to them growing up (my dad lost both parents by age 16, my mom lost her mom by age 12) so their desire to create the ultimate comfort zone was completely understandable. But it was also boring. When I left home for college I vowed that every day I would so something to stretch myself, and I pretty much have, sometimes with unintended consequences. I’ve moved 21 times, 3 in the last year, changed jobs, and otherwise reinvented myself. My job now requires travel 75 percent of the time, and with every trip, I push myself do something beyond ordering hotel room service and holing up with vapid tv shows (although one night each trip I allow myself the full indulgence of both). Change has not been easy. When I started traveling, I threw up the first night of every trip. I needed anti-vomit pills to get down the aisle on my wedding day. The marriage, quirky as it is, just marked 26 years. And I seldom throw up any more when I travel. Last time I did, it was the flu.

  3. I grew up in a Very Small World too. My methods of coping haven’t been quite as dramatic as Laurie’s, but I have consistently worked to expand my comfort zone, to gain confidence, to push aside fears of failure, to try new things, and to travel on my own, even in foreign countries. Today I took my car into the heart of D.C. to meet one of my blog readers. I have been to D.C. on my own before but would never drive inside the city itself (I’d park outside the city and use Metro to go in). Taking my car in and dealing with parking, fears of getting lost, crazed taxi drivers, and suicidal jaywalkers was a milestone for me. And driving 90 minutes to meet up with a someone I’ve only known online took courage to. Glad I did it.

  4. April says:

    I needed this post and the comments of the lovely women ahead of me. I’ve always been one to be safe and secure…but after 24 years of working for the same company, I’m leaving to open my own business. I’m a single mom with no other income…and no plan B. I just decided it was time to take the leap and pray that I actually have the wings to fly.

  5. nikki says:

    Good luck, April!

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