Regrets: We all have them. No matter how hard we try, we will always make choices that don’t work out, date people who are bad for us, and do things we wish we hadn’t done. That’s just part of being a living human woman. But a grown-ass woman learns not to let regret rule her life or color her decisions, for a very basic reason (Brace yourselves, for I am about to step into the realm of cliché): We learn from our mistakes. Especially awful, cringe-worthy, I-can’t-believe-I-did-that mistakes. But we can’t move forward if we spend our lives paying penance for them, regretting things that we can’t change.
It’s important to remember that regret is not, in itself, a bad thing. That uncomfortable “I wish I hadn’t…” feeling is a teaching mechanism, pushing us to make better choices and act differently in the future. But regret is, by its very nature, backward-looking. If you are consumed by the things you regret, then you’re in a constant state of reaching toward the past. Since (to my utter disappointment) time travel has yet to be invented, this obsessive need to look back is pointless and destructive; you can’t actually go and change anything in your history, but your preoccupation with it will keep you from making positive changes for your future. A grown woman realizes that the best thing to do with regret is to feel it, learn from it, and then let it go. (Go ahead, sing about it if you want to. I’ll wait.)
Keep reading for 10 regrets that a grown-ass woman knows to let go:
1. Taking a while to find your path
The road to becoming a grown-ass woman never did run smooth. Maybe you switched majors four times in college. Maybe you left college. Maybe you trained for a career and then discovered that you hated it once you started. Maybe you’ve switched jobs a bunch of times. Maybe you’re still figuring this stuff out. That’s OK. All of these twists and turns took you to where you are now, and I would bet that you learned from them. Isn’t that the whole point?
2. Dating someone who isn’t right for you
As with the rest of life, dating is a learning process. I think most of us, myself included, start our dating lives with an ideal of who our perfect partner will be. Then we date a couple of people and realize that type of person is not the right partner for us at all. Often, it’s only by dating the wrong people that we learn who the right people might be.
3. Having bad sex
It takes time and practice to learn both how to be a good sexual partner and what "good sex" means for you. It’s natural that you might have some less-than-stellar encounters as you figure these things out. Don’t regret them; just learn from them and vow to have better sex in the future.
4. Being a jerk
We are all jerks sometimes. Even the sweetest, kindest among us will have days when he or she is in a bad mood and lashes out on some undeserving person because of it. Feeling guilty about being a jerk won’t fix anything. If you can, apologize, and then move forward with the intention of having a better handle on your emotions in the future.
5. Breaking up with someone
We all know that being dumped is an awful, soul-shredding experience, and it’s easy to feel terrible about hurting another person – someone we once cared about, no less – in that way. But a grown woman knows that breakups are necessary endings to a lot of relationships, and someone has to be the bad guy.
6. Not breaking up with someone
Many of us have stayed in bad relationships because we felt too scared and guilty to break up with our partners, and then have had to learn the hard way that doing so simply makes things worse. In these situations, it’s important to learn the lesson that it’s better to break up with someone than to stay when you want out of the relationship, but we also have to learn to forgive ourselves for not doing the right thing.
7. Growing apart from people you knew when you were younger
When you grow up, it’s natural to become more distant from the friends you had when you were younger. If you want to maintain the friendship, by all means, go for it, but it’s OK if you simply grow apart.
8. Not being the person you wanted to be
Sometimes we are simply not our best selves. We’ve all had times when we were not very good daughters/friends/girlfriends/sisters/students/whatever, times when we’ve acted selfishly, or lazily, or cowardly, or simply badly. We shouldn’t be proud of these moments, but we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about them either. It’s important to think about why we acted in these ways, and how we might do better in the future, but then we have to let go of the guilt.
9. Making the same bad choice more than once
Some lessons are harder to learn than others. Of course, we want to learn from our bad decisions and never make them again, but change is really, really hard. All we can do is try our best and forgive ourselves when we relapse.
10. Making mistakes
We all make mistakes, large and small, and we will continue to do so, no matter how mature and “grown-ass” we may be. The only way to keep moving forward is to let go of regret and live our lives in the best ways that we can.
Images: Sascha Kohlmann/Flickr; Giphy(6)