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Thread: Biggest Regret In Life

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    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Biggest Regret In Life

    What is your biggest regret in life?

    I'm not talking about the little things, like you wish you would've asked Sally out on a date back in high school. Or you wish you would've taken that art class a few years back.

    What about the big things? The things that may have changed the course of your life, or the things that you still think about on a regular basis.

    For me, my biggest regret is not attending Michigan State University for graduate school. I almost went there right out of high school, but I admit, I was a little scared about being 1.5 hours from home, and decided to stay home for community college. This decision proved right at the time, as after a few years at CC I transferred to Grand Valley State University, where I eventually met my now wife.

    Fast forward a couple of years, and as I was completing my undergrad degree I was all set to attend MSU. My wife and I visited the urban planning department and liked it. However, I had a sudden change of heart. I figured if I was going to be a planner, why not study in a major metropolitan area? So after visiting Wayne State University, I ended up there. I also liked the fact that I would be closer to family and friends.

    Looking back now, I long to be able to turn back time and attend the university I've loved since I was a kid. I don't think this would've necessarily changed my life, but it's something I think about quite frequently. While I enjoyed my time at Wayne State, and met some cool people, MSU is where I belonged.

    I still check out their website from time to time, hoping there's some graduate certificate I could get, just to say that I'm officially a Spartan.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

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    Cyburbian Plus
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    You mean Big Things like - Marriage, Kids ?

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    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    You mean Big Things like - Marriage, Kids ?
    Sure, it could be something like marriage or kids. But I would prefer speficic situations. Like Susy and I were all set to get married, but something happened. Or, I was all set to pop the question, but I just couldn'd do not.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  4. #4
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I don't have a lot of big regrets. Or rather, I try not to view my decisions that way because, well, it can be a horribly depressing shame spiral of missed opportunities.

    That being said, one of the big things I regret is not making better decisions about career choices and schooling earlier on. I went back to school for planning in my late 30s after a challenging time as an arts administrator (that's what you do with a Folklore degree if you do't want to be a professor). The result, finishing up my planning grad degree at 40, is that despite my other experience, its like I am starting over again salary-wise. Employers generally have the attitude that unless your experience is in planning, you just aren't experienced at all and they pay accordingly. Or just don't consider you at all. So, I'm doing a lot of catch-up now, while also trying to support a household with two kids and also a mortgage. That's a challenge and I often think that if I had gone down this track much earlier in life. I would be in a better financial position now and feeling more stable.

    But, with the economy being what it is of late and the many letdowns in terms of career potential associated with being a GenXer, a good part of me is not convinced life would be all that different.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    When I was 20, a Nashville voice coach heard, by chance, some of my songs (I used to write quite a lot) and offered to take me with her to Nashville to try and convince some of the singers she coached to use them. At 20 yrs old, first year in college - I was dubious that it would work out, also plain scared, and didn't go.

    I really do regret not having taken the chance.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

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    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I regret not going to graduate school or law school as originally planned

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    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    It's not a regret, but one of those turning points I'm always going to wonder about. In October 2001, I visited a church one evening to see a friend. She was recently divorced and I'd just broken up with my girlfriend. I intended to take her out and make my move to elevate our relationship.

    I was talking to her after the service and about to see if she wanted to go get beers when a friend of her came up and asked if her and her friend (me) wanted to join a group at a local joint. My friend looked at me.

    The place they were going was an old haunt and I got excited about that, and forgot about the drinks. When we got there, I sat next to my friend . . . and across from this blonde woman that I started talking to.

    The blonde became Mrs. Coragus in May 2004. Now, I don't regret that, but I'm always going to wonder what would have happened if I'd said to friend, "No way, let's go drink!" like my orginal plan.
    What do you mean I can't plan? My SimCity has 200,000 people with a 99% happiness rating!

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    So far in my life there are no decisions I regret. Sure, there are things I probably would have done differently with what I know now but under the circumstances I feel I made the best decisions possible. The experiences I have, both positive and negative, have turned me into who I am today. If I had changed some things, I feel that may have altered the direction I ultimately went in in life.

    Like right now I'm seriously looking at doing the Peace Corps and putting my career on hold for a couple years. I feel if I passed up the opportunity, I wouldn't be able to do it later and would regret it for the rest of my life. The decision could ultimately end up hurting my career but if I don't do it, I will always wonder what could have been. I doubt I would have arrived at this decision had I not made some choices that put me in a job situation I want to try to get out of. Had I ended up in a different job situation, I doubt I would have seriously considered this idea.

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Probably would be not taking advantage of the opportunity to study abroad/overseas when I had the opportunity.

    Also, I hosted a Japanese exchange student and decided not to go over there when I was offered the opportunity. I feel like I may have missed out on a lifelong friend because we traded letters for a few years until I got distracted with the trappings of being a teenager and stopped writing.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Great thread topic. I recently read a book that talked about the top 5 biggest regrets of those who are about to die:

    1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
    2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
    3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings and thoughts.
    4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
    5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

    For me, there are things that I have regretted from time to time, but I now can view them as learning opportunities not to make the same mistake twice. Overall, they are few and far between.
    There is no such thing as failure, only learning experiences. However, it is our choice to learn the lesson and change or not.

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    Cyburbian Plus Veloise's avatar
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    Easy choice

    In early elementary it was determined that I was gifted, and during the Kennedy administration, this was handled by promoting a grade. Or the alternative was to be sent to "Roeper," a fast-track school not far from Cranbrook (which is in the news today).

    I'm recalling these alternatives being laid out as: you'd have to ride a school bus for HOURS to get to that other school. And I remember being asked if I wanted to stay in first grade or do 2nd-grader work, and start in third grade the following September. Whointhehell puts that sort of choice on a six-year-old?

    The fast-tracking was selected. Things have not worked out real well, and with 20/20 49-year hindsight, it's pretty clear why.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    Fast forward a couple of years, and as I was completing my undergrad degree I was all set to attend MSU. My wife and I visited the urban planning department and liked it. However, I had a sudden change of heart. I figured if I was going to be a planner, why not study in a major metropolitan area? So after visiting Wayne State University, I ended up there. I also liked the fact that I would be closer to family and friends.

    Looking back now, I long to be able to turn back time and attend the university I've loved since I was a kid. I don't think this would've necessarily changed my life, but it's something I think about quite frequently. While I enjoyed my time at Wayne State, and met some cool people, MSU is where I belonged.
    I regret my time at Wayne State but it's not a big regret for me by any means. When I applied to graduate school, I was burned out from a year of commuting to law school from the east side of the Metro area all the way to Ann Arbor 5 days a week for a program I decided about a month in just wasn't for me. I decided to make the switch to planning instead and liked that WSU was much closer to home and very affordable. My grad school related regret is two-fold : a) not finishing law school (but I could always go back if the bug actually hit me or I were laid off or something) and b) not widening my search for a planning grad school program. I was basically convinced of the greatness of WSU's program by a program manager at a foundation I was working at who had previously been a professor there. In the end though, I made some of the best friends I've ever had while I was at Wayne State and still keep in touch with a lot of my professors.

    I have two big regrets in life and they both revolve around my time in the Marine Corps. The first is that when I took the ASVAB, I had scores that were off the charts and the recruiter was trying to push me into an intelligence, foreign language, or cryptolinguist position. I declined because I did not like that those fields required a 5-year enlistment (instead of a 4-year enlistment) and the schooling for each was anywhere from 6 to 18 months and I would have been at boot camp during Thanksgiving and Christmas. I chose an administrative position instead because I would be done with all of my training and schooling much sooner and be home for the holidays. My other Marine Corps regret is that when I was about to get out, I only had a few college credits left to finish my undergraduate degrees and had begun the process of staying in the Marines and entering the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Program and becoming an officer. At the last minute I decided against it and that I wanted to go to law school instead.

    I often look back and wish I would have gone into intelligence because of the opportunities it would have opened for me in the private sector or that I had become an officer and stayed in the Corps for 25 years or so. Had I chosen that second route, I'd already be 3/5ths of the way towards retirement! Had I picked either of those routes though, I wouldn't have met Mrs. WSU MUP Student or had my daughter.

    I used to look back and regret ever leaving college after a year and joining the Marines in the first place. This was especially true when I first got out of the Marines and moved back to Michigan and all of my friends were just finishing up college and getting very good jobs right from the start. As I've gotten older though, I look back and remember all the things I got to do and places I got to go while in the Marines that most of my friends will never experience and that is no longer a regret at all.




    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by Veloise View post
    In early elementary it was determined that I was gifted, and during the Kennedy administration, this was handled by promoting a grade. Or the alternative was to be sent to "Roeper," a fast-track school not far from Cranbrook (which is in the news today).

    I'm recalling these alternatives being laid out as: you'd have to ride a school bus for HOURS to get to that other school. And I remember being asked if I wanted to stay in first grade or do 2nd-grader work, and start in third grade the following September. Whointhehell puts that sort of choice on a six-year-old?
    We don't plan on sending our daughter to a private school but if we did and she could get accepted to it, Roeper would be our only choice of all the big private schools right near us (Cranbrook, Country Day, Marian, Roeper).
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  13. #13
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    When I think of life's big regrets I'm reminded of that old Chinese story where an old farmer finds a horse has wandered onto his property and the neighbor says 'Great, you just got a free horse' and the old man says 'how do you know that's good?' the next day the old man's son tries to ride the horse, gets thrown and breaks his arm. The neighbor says 'oh that's bad, I'm sorry to hear it' The old man says 'how do you know that's bad?' A week later an army comes marching through the village and drafts all the able bodied young men, but pass on the old man's son because he has a broken arm.

    Fortune and misfortune are relative conditions that depend entirely on one's perspective. I suffered considerable angst and grief (as well as considerable excitement and joy) during my time in the service, but the experience changed me and the trajectory of my life. If I was spared the difficulties I encountered I would not have acquired whatever wisdom I managed to distill from the experiences.

    Regret is an emotional state. I experience discomfort, sadness, and pain almost every day. When I am at my worst, regret takes the form of wallowing in self-pity and wishing life was more comfortable. When I am at my best, the memories of various life's difficulties affords the opportunity of transcendence.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  14. #14
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    So far in my life there are no decisions I regret. Sure, there are things I probably would have done differently with what I know now but under the circumstances I feel I made the best decisions possible. The experiences I have, both positive and negative, have turned me into who I am today. If I had changed some things, I feel that may have altered the direction I ultimately went in in life.
    The same for me, completely. No outright regrets, but sometimes wonder how I got to be so lucky, especially considering some of the dumb things I did and decisions I made.

    There is a quote I like "Life is a sum of all your choices", and that is so true. I was just telling a friend the other day that life is like one of those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books from when I was little. You get through a chapter and are faced with a question - depending on what you choose determines the next chapter.

  15. #15
    I lucky I have no regrets here, other than telling Steve Jobs that I would not be buying any apples stock because at $4 a share, it was overpriced.

    Seriously. I am very lucky and happy. I have never seen the point of thinking of what might have been.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    I lucky I have no regrets here, other than telling Steve Jobs that I would not be buying any apples stock because at $4 a share, it was overpriced.

    Seriously. I am very lucky and happy. I have never seen the point of thinking of what might have been.
    Now this is what I don't understand.

    Even with my "big regret" I too am very happy and consider myself lucky with everything I have in life.

    Perhaps "regret" is the wrong choice of word in that it has a negative connotation to it.

    Is there another word we should be using in place of regret, for the emotion we feel about not choosing a certain path in life, and perhaps wishing we did?
    Last edited by btrage; 11 May 2012 at 10:24 AM.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Only other words I can think of are nostalgia and might-have-been (just learned that's actually a word) but I'm not sure they're what you're looking for.

    I'm sure there's a word in German for what you're looking for since they have a cool word for everything.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    I'll be blunt, not getting the heck out of the planning profession sooner. It has been one financial/career mess for most of my short time in the profession and I should have jumped ship years ago. I gave it one more shot moving out to a job in Kansas and it turned out to be one huge waste of my time.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 11 May 2012 at 10:59 AM.
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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    Now this is what I don't understand.

    Even with my "big regret" I too am very happy and consider myself lucky with everything I have in life.

    Perhaps "regret" is the wrong choice of word in that it has a negative connotation to it.

    Is there another word we should be using in place of regret, for the emotion we feel about not choosing a certain path in life, and perhaps wishing we did?
    Don't sweat it. 'Regret' is a perfectly adequate and appropriate word for what you're describing. I'm half tempted to edit my earlier post by changing it to papyrus font, so I can appear even more imbued with great wisdom

    I took it what you were asking is just another way of saying "what life decisions have stung the most" and were not suggesting anyone is spending the balance of their life wallowing in bitterness and self-pity.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  20. #20
    Cyburbian dw914er's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    So far in my life there are no decisions I regret. Sure, there are things I probably would have done differently with what I know now but under the circumstances I feel I made the best decisions possible.
    I'm pretty much aligned with this post. There are things that I wish I had maybe done differently, but I'm still too young to really see how things will pan out. I think my frustrations in life relate to the timing of events rather than events themselves (which is something that is not in my control). We'll see how I feel about my life's choices at 30, 40, and 50.
    And that concludes staff’s presentation...

  21. #21
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Not a buying a restored Porsche 356 bathtub convertible when I had the cash.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Plus Veloise's avatar
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    On the other side...you had to go through that to get here

    Being 15% younger than my classmates meant that I had to learn to cope with adversity (i.e. bullying, some from teachers). Nowadays I don't put up with @#$%^&. Doesn't matter what situation, I will get up and walk out.

    The current focus on bullying and "being nice" (there's a big demonstration in the local schools today) hits home because I understand exactly what it's about. And the victim group needs non-involved allies who will speak out and stand up for them.

    Regarding our local Big Ten universities: the MSU band featured hazing and harassment not quite on the level of the school in Florida, but still pretty damaging with long-lasting effects. In the 90s I was contacted by a big newspaper writing a story about the current situation; the target was gay, and the hazing had escalated from the verbal abuse I knew. The reporter mentioned talking to the major target from the 80s, a Native American who'd been forcibly shaved (haircut issue). She still had the supportive letter I'd sent her when her story hit the news, and that's how he'd found me.

    It just dawned on me why I don't spend a lot of time on professional sports and the rah-rah stuff.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Moving back to the US and not becoming an expat who traveled often.
    -------
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  24. #24
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    Is there another word we should be using in place of regret, for the emotion we feel about not choosing a certain path in life, and perhaps wishing we did?
    Wistful?!

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    If I only knew then what I know now...


    Regrets? There are a few but nothing overly earth-shattering. I wish I would have done a summer/semester oversees, maybe transfered to another college after 2 years, had a kid before I was 40. There are probably many things I would have done differently. However I really don't think of certain decisions as regrets, just that there might have been a better answer/choice.

    A part of me really hates to play the "What if" game - you can what if yourself to death. I am generally blessed and hopefully a good light will continue to shine. I need to keep reminding myself of that too.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
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