I’d rather look back on life and know I did all I could to make myself smile, then to look back and think, “Why didn’t I try harder?”
It may seem like an easy notion to perceive, until you realize the stockpiled regret sitting conspicuously in the corner of your mind.
Regret. It’s like the cold. There are countless variations of it, so it keeps occurring. It can make your eyes water, your nose sniffle, your head ache, or your chest constrict. You don’t know how long it will last or what will become of you if it gets worse. But the difference? When we are sick, we drink orange juice or take an aspirin— we try to cure ourselves, and eventually we do. With regret, we don’t know how to stop it once it’s started, so we let it be. We continue being sick because we don’t believe there is a cure.
Often, people have a difficult time believing in what they can’t see. When you’re sick, a thermometer tells you; the dark digits of a fever are proof enough. When you’re good at something, an award confirms it— not the passion rollicking within you over what you love to do. When you’re in danger, the paranoia of your thoughts is confirmed by the sight of a weapon. We see it, so we believe it.
So how are we supposed to acknowledge regret or emotion when we can only see parts of it in a mirror? How do we learn to cope with what we feel, when we’ve been designed to deal with what we see?
The complexities of life live within the thoughts of each individual. All of our history, our memories, our senses— they all live within our cognitive dwellings.
Some of us with the greatest of aspirations, hope to configure ourselves so we may understand how to rid the negativity from it’s superfluous space. Some, simply don’t know how to see themselves. They unintentionally make no use of finding who they are, or creating something better of themselves. They live unaware of their capabilities. And for these people, happiness is a limited material given without consent and taken without knowledge. Regret is very much the same for them, except it cannot be taken away.
Through self-discovery and creation, I conceived a method to living without regret. I took some time to realize how I operate and came upon the conclusion that I’m always changing. But I love to learn about who I am, so I’m always educating myself further. I’m always evaluating how I can do better. I recognized my principles and sustained the basis of who I am by ensuring that I’ll always strive to become something better. And even with these expectations, I’ve come to love myself unconditionally. I may never be good enough for the inhabitants of this world, but I will always be great enough for myself.
And now, every misstep, every mistake, and every regret that attempts to plague my mind, I can acknowledge. From both the world and myself, I’ve learned that I cannot regret what I’ve learned from. I will not regret poor decisions or life’s questionable actions towards me. For it is from these experiences that I’ve grown. It is from my recognition of the existing negativity that I’ve changed. And it is from looking within myself and creating the person I strive to be, that I’ve become, and I’m still becoming, something better as a result of every regrettable action.
And now I focus on smiling, even if I’m by myself. Why? From everything I’ve gathered and every regret that’s come to pass, I always smile for other people. They think of me as happy and always grinning. And I realized how I regretted not being happy by myself while everyone perceives it as so easy for me to be. So instead of wallowing, I opened a window. A breeze had flittered through, tossing my curls across my complexion.
And I felt the skin of my cheeks stretch high.
I’ve trekked through an arduous journey simply to smile, but after learning of who I am, the ease of my skyward lips is as uplifting as the window I cracked just to see it all. The point is, people will see you smile, but not all can understand the glory behind the beam.
And that’s okay.
Just as long as you feel it.
No one can control your happiness but you. So never allow your mistakes or the judgements of others define who you are, because it is then you become plagued by an ailment much more challenging to heal. In this war of mentality and heart, we must not battle. For the cure takes both strength of mind and love of self to restore what we desire so greatly of ourselves. Learn about yourself. Love who you are. Embrace everything you wish to become.
One day, you’ll look in the mirror, or feel a cool breeze caress your cheek, or the chirping of birds amidst the silence, and you will smile. And when you feel that smile spread across your face, you’ll realize you’ve always held the cure. And that it did exist after all.
-Kiran Bains Sahota