Regret: feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that one has done or failed to do).
Mistake: an act or judgement that is misguided or wrong.
Apparently it’s the week of ‘tell Zoë she’s wrong about things!‘ (which, to be fair, is not one-week-a-year-occurrence) with people feeling the need to express their wisdom to me. Unrequested, uncalled for AND incorrect, I might add. Which is fine, overall, seeing as critique is a very effective reflection-boost and perfect opportunity to gain new insights (or a delightfully easy way to separate the wheat from the chaff).
Examples, you ask? Sure:
‘You’re going to regret not giving ‘us’ a chance. -insert completely out of context , unsavory dick pic AFTER me cancelling date three-‘
Random internet weblog stranger:
‘You’re going to regret not being close with your family. Family is the most important thing in life.’
My inner angelic voice:
‘You’re going to regret opening that bottle!’
Ok fine. That last one I made up (there’s actually 0 booze in the house right now AND my inner voice knows better than to try and curb my drinking). Although, admittedly, my head MIGHT in the past have felt some regrets ‘the morning after‘ as the one exception to my NOT feeling regret. ‘WHAT? Zoë, you feel no regrets?!‘. No worry, mysterious reader – let me explain!
Mistakes =/ regrets!
Seriously when people throw the phrase ‘you’re going to regret….-whatever-‘ my way: I pull on the brakes. There’s no room for regrets in my life. I make mistakes, sure. A lot of them, actually. But I make it a point to regret NOTHING. The thing is that there’s a crucial difference between regrets and mistakes in my universe (as pointed out above), wherein the locus of control and the sentiment are very important.
Regret, following the classical definition, is a state of sadness (or discontent) created by ones own actions. You regret something you’ve had control over, without any outside influence, and ‘done‘ (or not done) yourself. Aka – you mourn making a mistake.
Fuck that shit. When I make a choice, I make a choice. That’s it. My locus of control is fully internal. I own my life, my choices and my world. The outside world, however big of a factor and influence, does not control my choices – just my outcomes. And in that power I take to make my own choices (instead of feeling victimized by the world around me) I make mistakes, of course. And where you CAN regret mistakes, I don’t. A mistake does NOT have to equal regret.
Outside of that tattoo being horrendous on ALL fronts – it’s also untrue:
A past mistake CAN be a learning opportunity. A reminder to act differently in a new situation. It can be a confrontation with unhealthy patterns or a chance to adopt new ones. It can be a source for pain and a powerful means to finding out your worth.
But regardless of the negativity intertwined with the ‘making of a mistake‘- it is not something to regret, because every mistake holds its own power. You just have to find it, which you will never do if you just sit there moping because you made a mistake. Regret immediately stops any possible progress to be made on the premise of that mistake. AKA – not in my repertoire.
Usually though – when people tell me I’m going to regret something…the only thing I regret is having them in my life. Which it usually fixed quite soon thereafter. I’m easy like that.
So save yourself the trouble. Your externally fed ‘good intention‘ ain’t got nothing on that internal locus of control of mine. I learn from my mistakes. I don’t let them become regrets (although, were I to get the tattoo from the featured image…I MIGHT).
Ps. cutting people out of my life (be it internet strangers, tinder dudes OR family and partners) has so far VERY rarely been a mistake AND more importantly: never a regret. Inconvenient? Definitely. Life-changing? Totally. Painful? Sure. But a regret? Never. Because anything that comes close to me regretting it: I fix. Whatever it takes.