I've been surrounded by endings and beginnings this spring. Just last week, my sister graduated with her Master's from Hopkins. It was a remarkable accomplishment considering the fact that in the last 9 months, her stairs have had 'tacks in it, and splinters, and boards torn up...'*. I've moved from one project to another, I'm driving a new-to-me car and I'm moving to another city. After the congratulations come in, one question that I've asked of others and myself is, 'If you had it to do all over again, would you change anything?'
It's funny, because, most people's first response is, 'No' followed by, 'My journey is what made me who I am today. I wouldn't be 'me' if I hadn't gone through what I did.' That seems noble, strong and resiliant...until you really dig deeper.
Ever since I saw the Devil's Advocate in the theater many years ago, the notion of 'choice' has always resonated with me. We all make choices. Some of which can make our road more or less bumpy. Can you learn life lessons without the bumps? Can you be a well rounded, grounded, aware person without having made the 'wrong' choices? For me, the answer is yes. Would you do it the same way, again? Not if I could help it.
There are experiences that changed me in ways that did NOT make me better, and it was all because of my choice. I never hear anyone say that.
There are classes that I would have taken, jobs that I would not have taken, men that I would never have called, admirers that I should have ignored and others that I should have paid more attention to.
I think the reason many people claim to have no regrets is that it is groundshaking to acknowledge that the hurt you experienced or trauma you suffered was your own fault. I wrestled with that. The natural inclination is to find someone to blame, but what if that person is staring at you from the mirror? How do you recover from that?
For me, after trying to rationalize (ration out the lies - according to my pastor), having the epiphany, being weakened by the realization, then climbing up out of the ashes, I find it to be empowering.
There are choices that I will NEVER make again. The beauty of being over 30 and then over 35 is that you really understand what your grands meant when they said, "there is nothing new under the sun." You begin to see the patterns and playbook with 20/20 clarity. At least I feel like I'm getting to that point.
The thing about growth is that it does hurt sometimes. But, I don't believe the hurt has to be at your own hands. For some people, this may be the most effective way to go about it. For me, not so much. I'm not hard headed. I'd rather learn from your mistakes, than be the one making them. Thank you very much!
So, if someone were to ask me, 'So Penni - Congratulations! Would you change anything if you had it to do all over again?'
I'd simply reply, 'Thanks and absolutely!'
*This is from Mother to Son by Langston Hughes. It's a poem that I had to memorize when I was 9 (5th grade reading class - Bmore public schools weren't always the worst. :-))