My biggest regret for a long time was not taking a break between university semesters to travel. The idea did occur to me at the time to take some time off to visit Europe, like many of the people I had read about in teenage novels. None of my friends were into it, however. We were all studious to a fault. School first, fun later. As if there was some sort of race to see who could pile up the most degrees in the shortest amount of time. It was always a competition. I did have one acquaintance who took a solo trip to Australia in the middle of our second year. My best friend thought he was just lazy. We all doubted he would return.
So, I didn’t go anywhere. I promised myself I would as soon as I graduated. Of course I didn’t. The opportunities were there. I passed them over in favour of working at a hotel stacking chairs. Too much fear to go it alone, I guess.
In later years my biggest regret was not recognizing my passion for all things canine. If only I had spent more time with my childhood dog, maybe I would have realized this love sooner, maybe I would have studied something more useful in school than the Decembrist revolt, and maybe I would have found a career of which I could be proud. So much time wasted writing papers on ancient Roman medicine, so much time lost.
Regret is useless, we all know. If I hadn’t worked at the hotel, I wouldn’t have met my PH. If I hadn’t chosen Bismarck over my Siberian husky at home, I probably wouldn’t have met Shiva. A Kristine without a Shiva is a very sad thing indeed. Now I am glad I didn’t do those things, though the wistfulness remains when I look back.
I am not sure what my biggest regret is right now. I hope this doesn’t mean I am in the midst of making the mistakes I will later rue. I regret when I abandon myself or when I ignore my own desires for the sake of doing things I think will make others happy. I regret turning down chances for joy due to fear of judgment from others. More and more I am learning how to be okay with being myself; less and less do these regrets niggle. Maybe one day I’ll even give myself that European backpacking trip.
On the other hand, I am thirty-two years old. If I do make it there, I will be staying in hotels.