Prompt 004: Biggest Personal Regret
What is your biggest regret from the past and why? What did you learn from this incident and how has it helped you going forward?
I think being married at the age of 21 was a big mistake of mine, and a tremendous learning experience. I grew up in a more-or-less sheltered, stable, family home in the 'burbs. Meeting someone in college, falling in love, having that love reciprocated, having sex (with someone else) for the first time... All major learning experiences that came about from this first major relationship.
I supposed, in my young, sheltered white man's mind at the time, that the first person I was going to stick my penis into, I was going to marry, and be with for the rest of my life. That's what I wanted, and I felt like it had suddenly appeared at the age of 19 when I became engaged. I think the model of a relationship I was attempting to emulate was that of my parents, who had been together since their early 20's.
Of course, had I a lick of "common" sense at all, I would have been able to see beyond my immediate experience, think critically about the state of my life at the time. To take a step back and take a breather would have been a great choice. Additionally, I still have preconceived notions of what life would have been like without that relationship, without that marriage. My college and post-college experience would have been tremendously different had the marriage not happened.
I studied for a semester overseas, surrounded by beautiful, intelligent women. I can actually say I had a crush on at least one of them. How would things have been different were I not married (and had chosen to stick to my marriage vows)? What about the professor of mine who clearly wanted to know me better? I'll never know. Other banal things have crossed my mind: what would it have been like to be roommates with a bunch of other guys, who had parties at their house all the time, out in the 'burbs or whatnot? What would it have been like to have not been in significant debt so soon in life?
I have the feeling that, since this experience happened so early in life for me (relatively speaking), I've been somewhat "socially delayed." There are a lot of what I see as youthful experiences I think I missed out on.
Manage your expectations. There are no guarantees. You are not as unique or special as you think you are. Those are the big three lessons I'd learned and carried forward in life.