I used to say that only had one regret in life – that moment when I moved from Massachusetts to New York. I distinctly remember moving on 4th of July weekend, thinking it ironic that at a time when everyone else was celebrating freedom, I was in fact, relinquishing mine, and voluntarily taking up chains. I spent well over 10 years after trying to return to Massachusetts.
It didn’t work. The cost of living is way too high for me to be able to pull an income to live there without being homeless. Not only did I have to face that heart crushing reality, but I also came to realize over the course of time, that I needed to let go of that solitary regret. There is a Buddhist saying that if you live in the past, you are depressed, if you live in the future, you are anxious, and to live in the present because it is a gift.
I agree wholeheartedly that the present is a gift. When I face challenges or adversities and start to become stressed, I try to summarize the situation by identifying the two or three things that are bothering me the most. Then, if I mentally set those things aside, I realize that life is pretty damn good and start counting my blessings.
Now I live with no regrets.
Regrets are borne out of the “woulda, shoulda, coulda” mindset. We all have it from time to time. Sometimes we wonder how life would be if we had done this differently or chosen that over what we are doing. The key is to not get caught up in that exercise and beat yourself up over what could have been. It typically happens when we are contemplating major life changes. When faced with big choices, choice A is sure to have a distinct and different outcome than if we were to go with choice B.
I have had some pretty major life changes over the course of the past year. My 20-year career as a college student ended, and I have been out of school for 6 months now. I have no regrets. The timing was right. I was ready to be done. Four or five years ago, when various people were encouraging me to drop out of school due to my grueling commute, I was not ready to be done with school, and to drop out at that time surely would have resulted in regret. The timing was right for me to be done now. I am completely happy.
About 3 months ago, I completely deleted my faceboook account. Every so often, I will be in conversation with someone, and they will say “I saw it on facebook,” or “on facebook …” and trail off. I just smile and nod. I honestly do not feel I am missing anything by not being on facebook. My stress levels have decreased significantly. I do not feel the pressure to keep up with the Jones’. I am no longer subjected to everyone’s drama. Believe me, to quote the infamous Deadpool, facebook is to my mental health like what “Limp Biskit did to music in the 90s.” I am significantly happier without it.
To add to the plethora of changes that have been occurring, I cut my hair last week. You are probably like, “whatever, I get a trim every 7 weeks.” I typically get my hair trimmed also, except this was a major cut. My hair has been halfway down my back, approaching my butt for going on 10 years, and it is now up above my shoulders closer to my ears. One of my coworkers did a double take and literally almost fell over when they saw it. It just needed to be gone. When your hair is so long and so fine that it not only gets caught in every seatbelt, purse strap, and starts to attempt to try to dreadlock itself, when you don’t want dreadlocks, then its time to be gone.
With my new hair, I can drive with all the windows down without having to worry about my hair being knotted worse that a rubber band ball, and showering is quick and easy. Believe it or not, I can still style it in my signature braids for running, although the braids are now so small, they make me look like a toddler. My hair is just slightly longer than that kewpie doll look.
I am looking to sell the bed in my spare bedroom so that I can reclaim that space for a different, yet to be determined, purpose. Not only am I changing myself, but the space around me.
Big changes that are coming in the future is that I will be shutting off my home internet, and giving up my space in the parking garage I use for work and having to walk a few miles to work from someplace that has free and safe parking. Giving up Internet and parking are going to be challenges, but are necessary changes that need to be made for financial reasons. There are only two ways to get more money in life to pay for necessities. You either earn more money or you reduce your expenses.
I could earn more money. I could apply to teach at one of the colleges in the area or look for some other part-time job. I don’t want to. I enjoy the time I have now with my given work schedule. It is not worth it to me to sacrifice my time to work another job to try to get more money. Now that I have experienced this phenomenon called leisure time for the first time in my life, I am hooked and do not want to give it up. I spent decades working 70 hours a week. I don’t want to do it again.
The only way to come up with more money to cover the unexpected medical expenses I am facing right now is to reduce my expenses. The only frivolous expenses I have are parking and Internet. So, they have to go. Once the parking and Internet bills are gone, I am only left with necessities like rent, electric, car, and insurance. If cutting parking and Internet does not free up some cash to pay medical bills, then I don’t know what will.
Before everyone throws a fit over canceling home Internet, be aware that my cell phone has unlimited Internet. When I switched phone carriers last fall, I not only saved myself over $100 a month in the switch, but I also went from having an Internet cap to unlimited. I can still email, catch the news, sports, and weather right from my phone. In fact, in looking at my Internet usage over the past 6 months since I have been out of school, the only time I bring my laptop out and plug into the Internet is when I’m writing this blog. Not only can I do that from my phone with an app, but I also have access to some places with some pretty good wifi if I want a larger platform than my phone. Spending $2 at my favorite café once a week for coffee and wifi is a whole lot cheaper for Internet at a grand total of $8 per month ($2/week x 4 weeks) than what I am paying now. Plus, going to the café once a week gets me out in the community. Or, maybe I will alternate. If I can blog through an app on my phone, then maybe I will only frequent the café twice a month. Either way, I do not feel I am using the Internet enough to justify paying for home access, and the money I will save by shutting off Internet will be better used for other bills.
The hardest transition is going to be giving up my parking pass. Having a parking pass is a huge convenience. It is close to my work, it is in a safe location, and the car is covered so I do not have to deal with snow and ice in the winter. My car is safe there. Now, the challenge will be finding a safe place to park my car. Once I do find a safe place, I will have to walk a few miles to work. Normally, this is no big deal. I run marathons, after all. The challenge is that the time of day I will be walking due to my work hours is not the safest time or place to be on my own, but after surviving some negative experiences in big cities, I will be sure to play it safe.
I have done a lot to decrease my expenses in recent years. Most of it has just been cutting out excess and fluff. Getting rid of my parking pass will be my first true sacrifice in trying to get more money to pay for bills. I am hoping I don’t regret giving up my parking pass. Time will tell. It is definitely going to be a huge change. I have viewed my parking pass as a way to keep my investment (vehicle) safe, so my life is about to get more challenging.
Whenever we face big changes in life, we have the potential for regret. I want a live a life with no regrets. I want to look at all the options, make an informed decision, and jump in with both feet: this is what I’m doing and live with the consequences. Change is scary. It is fear of the unknown. Even the best-laid plans do not always work out. We may make a decision, and then find out information later that makes us wish we had made an alternate choice. Yet we can only go on what is in front of us at that time. How do you live a life with no regrets?