I was only twelve years old when I heard someone just casually mention something to the effect, a wise man learns from his mistakes but the wisest learn from the mistakes of others. And those few seconds changed my life for the better. I then decided I want to live such a life that I would have as few regrets as possible when I came to the end of life’s journey.
I spent my teenage years listening to my elders complain about how much they hated their jobs or how unruly their kids were or how much they and their spouses fought. Yet I saw almost no one do anything to change these bad circumstances. I saw almost no one change jobs unless they got laid off or had health problems that prevented them from working. I saw parents and their kids argue and fight over every little thing to the point the kids abandoned their parents after high school graduation and never looked back. And the spouses almost never tried to solve their problems and often wound up divorced and bitter. I looked out at all of this and thought that all of that was stupid. And all I heard from my elders when I asked about this was “Wait until you’re an adult” or “Wait until you have bills to pay”, etc. All the while I was making notes and planning on how I wouldn’t fall into those traps.
I saw people have bad marriages. That is why early on I decided I wouldn’t compromise on the woman I would marry. I admit I was picky about the women I wanted to date. Granted, not many of them wanted to date me. Looking back on it, this upfront rejection saved me a lot of heartache down the road. Why should I spend time with people who don’t want to spend time with me? I am now thirty nine years old and have never been married. I don’t have many friends that can say that. But, I would make a bad husband and father with my mental illness and personality being what they are. I try not to look back and wonder ‘what if.’ I am not anti marriage or anti family. I just don’t think either one is right for me. It is just part of knowing myself.
I have also left dead end jobs. Everyone probably has worked one of those, especially in their twenties. My first couple jobs out of college were dead end. I left my first job out of college when my hours were being cut. Looking back on it, I was probably being phased out. So I moved to my current town and found another job within a couple weeks. That too turned out to be a dead end job in the same industry. I left after six months to go work at the local university. I enjoyed the university job, but it was dependent on being a graduate student at the same time. As it was, I didn’t make good enough grades to keep the job. And since I didn’t want to go into debt to get a masters’ degree and not be guaranteed a job, I left the program. Turned out to be a wise move. My mental illness got worse to the point I couldn’t hold a regular full time job. I applied for disability in January 2006 and it took almost two years to get approved. I don’t know how anyone survives while waiting for disability to kick in without family support. But I went on disability without any student loans. And while I was working fifteen hours a week as a janitor at the courthouse, I was living quite well.
After a few years at the courthouse, I decided another change was in order. I left that job and devoted myself to my blog, my writings, and my self directed scholarship. It was a good decision, at least for me. I have learned to live on little money and appreciate the simple things. I have studied several different topics over the years, all just either by going to the library or watching educational videos and audiobooks via youtube. And it didn’t cost me anything other than internet service fees (which are only a dollar per day for my needs). For the price of two cans of Coca Cola out of a vending machine, I have access to the knowledge of the ages. That by itself tells me that right now, in 2019, is a very cool time to live in. Sure we have our problems and issues, but it used to be much worse for most of history.
In short, I have tried to live my life with few regrets. I have made decisions, while not popular with my friends, family, coworkers, etc., that made a great deal of positive difference for me. I don’t know how long I will get to live this life. But whenever my last days come, I don’t want to be wondering ‘what if’ or ‘should have or could have.’ For the most part, I don’t have a lot of regrets. At least, not many I could have done much different.