Sometimes we hold onto regrets from our past longer than we should. We think that “we should’ve done this or that” and our lives now would be different.
I often regret that I didn’t spend more time drawing, doodling, and creating as a child. I once loved to paint. I remember sitting at the table with my mother as we painted with watercolors all over scrap paper. I loved her paintings, usually trees. I remember drawing ducks, well, actually the profile of a swimming duck — it was the only thing I felt I was good at drawing. That and a little smiling face based on Ziggy with rock star hair.
Yep, that was my image. I drew him on everything. Not that good, but he made me happy. That, and my duck. Other than that, I was a writer. I didn’t need to draw.
Yet I still loved doing things with my hands. I loved picture books. I loved comics. I loved photographs. I should’ve seen the signs all around me that I had a calling in art. I didn’t see those signs until I had some time to reflect on them. That’s when the regret seeped in.
I recently had an experience where I realized that I needed to stop piling more guilt onto these regrets. It wasn’t helping. In fact, it was actually hurting because I was bemoaning the fact that I could be so much further along if I hadn’t “wasted” all that time. Forget the fact that I was actually spending that time learning to tell a story and daydreaming. Nope, I’d wasted all that time! I’d never get it back. So, why even bother trying now because I was so far behind.
I realized that I needed to push that nagging voice aside and focus on the real truth — I had to get over wanting to heal the wounds of the past and discover that I am a whole person. I was not meant to start my art career earlier. I did need that time to play, dream, and write. It makes up a large part of who I am now and my work process. I wasn’t ready to sit down and learn to draw and paint like I am now. I am now ready to do more than just a flat face smiling back at me. I needed it then. Now I need to be more dynamic. Everything I have ever done has gone into this moment of creating myself. I am not a series of regrets, a rapid fire of success and failures. I am a creature of my own creation through success and failure. I have to learn what works for me and what doesn’t. I have to know, understand, and accept my own strengths. It is from this vantage point that I must do my work.
What regrets are limiting you? Have you realized it is better to be whole than looking back on the past with self irritation? How have you stopped wishing that you “had done” and started doing?