By Dawn Onley
I purchased my first property when I was 24 years old, and I was extremely proud of that accomplishment. It made me feel grown up. It was a loft condo located just a half hour’s drive from Manhattan via the George Washington Bridge. The perfect location, which surprisingly, didn’t come with an exorbitant price tag.
I loved entertaining family in that condo. Its close proximity to New York ensured a steady stream of visitors over the years. I would walk two blocks down the street to a daily farmer’s market, or drive a mile from the house to Corrado’s, a family-owned grocery store that specialized in international foods, specialty cheeses, olives and plenty of other items to give a party pizzazz. Just up the street was Anjo’s, a small Italian restaurant where I would dine and order a delicious dish of penne and broccoli and bring my own bottle of wine to help wash it down.
I vowed never to sell my condo.
Seven years later, a relocation to a different state, a new home purchase and a pending divorce found me eating those words. Selling that condo would become a move that I would regret almost instantly. It would come up in conversations, and I would inevitably tell whomever I was talking to how much I regretted selling.
It was far from my first regret, and it wouldn’t be my last. Over the course of my life, I have regretted a few relationships, not learning another language, not learning how to swim, wasting precious time, and missing out on one or two key opportunities. I’ve lamented not spending enough time with my friends and family and not taking enough time to appreciate the moment.
Regret can be a debilitating disease that can leave you paralyzed and afraid to take risks because of the potential to fail. It can have you so firmly rooted in the past that you neglect the present.
I’m getting to a place where, as Henry David Thoreau put it, I’m making the most of my regrets because “to regret deeply is to live afresh.” I’m getting to a place that appreciates the decisions that I made in the past for the reasons that I made them – and I’m standing by those decisions, in full and unapologetic support of me. I’m moving towards a mindset that is easier and less judgmental, giving me the room to make mistakes without putting myself down or rehashing those mistakes over and over in my mind, with the same negative bent.
This place that I’m headed appreciates the life lessons that regrets teach, even as it prods me to keep growing. It is kind and patient and it expects the same from me in return.