Friday Question of the Day – What do you wish you were better at? What do you wish you had done differently?

fqotd
Photo by PoPville flickr user Emily Mamula

I realize there could be a privileged element to some of these questions but I’m genuinely curious. I find it interesting to reflect upon. I wish I was a better swimmer. I wish I had taken more time before deciding to go to graduate school. What do you wish you were better at? What would you have done differently?

133 Comment

  • I regret all of my poorly written caption contest entries.

  • I have a long list, but I’ll pick one response for each question. I wish I hadn’t quit piano lessons as a kid. I wish I was better at math. That’s a start!

    • It’s never too late to resume piano lessons! My favorite site, Piano World, has a forum dedicated to Adult Beginners (including those who are taking lessons again after a long break). If anyone thinks they might have the piano bug, it’s a great place to check out! And nowadays, digital pianos are so good, that you can easily play in apartment buildings- with headphones- or have them moved from place to place if you are moving a lot.

    • Yes! I just started piano lessons as a 31 year old. I played the saxophone for 12 years but decided recently I wanted to learn something that was more fun to play by myself or in social/family settings. Never too late to start!

      • Thanks for the inspiration, both of you. You’re absolutely correct that it’s not too late to make amends for my poor decision at age 8 to quit piano lessons!

  • I regret voting for Hillary Clinton here instead of voting for her absentee in Pennsylvania.

  • I never did study abroad in undergrad or law school because I was too focused on the bottom line- saving money/spending the least amount possible. It seems silly now that I could have gone to China for weeks for $5000. It was a lot then and a lot now, but I will never have the same opportunity to go for that length of time and do what my colleagues did for $5000 again.

    • I have this same regret. I was too focused on my academics and finishing school early that I opted out of study abroad and other experiences. I’ve made a conscious decision in my 30s to dial back on being so career focused and make room for things I’ve been putting off.

    • I am so grateful my college made study abroad so easy. You paid as if you were still going to school there and living on campus and the college paid the school where you were studying abroad. In my case, London School of Economics, it would have been more expensive for me to pay the tuition, room, and board there, so my university paid more than I paid them. And since LSE didn’t have a dining hall, I just got a stipend for food expenses, so I ate super economically and used that money as fun money. They also covered two roundtrip tickets back to the states. My friend who designed her own program in Mexico used to joke that she was paying for me to go to London, since she would have paid a lot less for her study abroad had she just paid outright. Then again, she did get to get a year full of credit for a program she designed herself. I do regret not working while I was in London. I think I really missed out on the local culture and getting beyond my student bubble. Plus, more work experience never hurt anyone.

      • One of the reasons I did my undergrad in the UK was because (at the time – before they started restructuring university fees, and when the exchange rate was *really* good) it was a lot cheaper for me to pay international student tuition there than even in-state tuition here. I paid 6,500 pounds a year then; I just looked and the rate for international students at the same university is now 17,000 pounds!!

    • northeazy

      I did a three month study abroad in undergrad to Spain. It wasn’t enough. My law school offered summer study abroad options but I knew a 6 week program wouldn’t satisfy my desire. After law school., I turned down job opportunities and just did a self-study abroad. I moved to Brazil for one year days after taking the bar exam. I taught English to pay the bills. Now that I have a desk job and a kid, I am so happy I did that. If you can still take the plunge, DO IT!

      • That’s fantastic that you up and went to Brazil!

        • northeazy

          10 years later, I still keep in touch with a few of the people I met in Brazil. Been back once. And hosted two of them on more than one occasion here in DC. Best 12 month period of my life.

  • I regret that I have so many regrets. I wish I had studied something creative in college in addition to my sensible majors or at least pursued a career that offered some form of creative fulfillment. I wish I hadn’t quit piano. I wish I had learned to play guitar. I regret not maintaining certain friendships (it goes both ways, I suppose). I wish I had traveled more when flying didn’t bother me in the least because now it scares the hell out of me.

  • Like Cam (but slightly different), I wish I was (still) good at (advanced) math. I was doing some “spring cleaning” back in the fall and came across an old college math notebook. I couldn’t make heads or tails of the advanced calculus and stats I used to do easily. My job rarely requires anything more than intermediate algebra and basic statistics, and I’ve completely lost the more advanced stuff. That’s a real shame since I now have the *programming* skills to do that kind of math in a “meaningful” way.

  • Some (many) years ago, seeing an invitation to join a women’s rugby team (I played in college), but I put up barriers (it’s too hard to get to, too late in the day). I used to know some great rugby songs!
    .
    I would’ve joined the Peace Corps when invited – at that time, doing ag extension work in a remote area wasn’t even close to an interesting assignment. Now I’ve fully embraced my inner farm girl ~
    .
    Wish I could sing, or play an instrument, or be fluent in another language

    • Oh man, I loved playing rugby. I can’t imagine fitting it in now, but what fun it was. I played for the Furies for a year after college, but then quit when I started taking math classes to bolster my grad school application.

      • Me too, but on the men’s side. i simply couldn’t keep it up and my body started to give out. Those were some awesome days though.

        on a more positive note- touch rugby is awesome.

  • I wish I was better with musical instruments. I’ve been trying to teach myself guitar forever. What I would’ve done differently—I would have come out A LOT sooner than I did.

  • binntp

    I wish I had studied a foreign language other than Latin earlier in life. I wish too I had an ear for foreign languages.

    • I wish I hadn’t majored in Latin in college (they forced us to declare when we were first-years). The department was small and I thought I’d get better at it but never did. Graduated cum lousy.

      I wish I were better at promptly delivering bad news to people instead of sitting on it. A stitch in time and all that.

  • Tom

    I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done, but I do wish I’d have done some of those things at different times. I wish I’d sought help for alcohol and substance abuse a few years earlier in life; saved some wear and tear on the old organs during my more formative years, y’know? I also wish I’d have set aside at least 15 minutes each day to keep my guitar chops intact, since I’m seeing a few of y’all talking about wanting to learn. I’ve played for 16 years, four of which were with a band pulling semi-regular gigs in Jersey and Pennsylvania, but after I moved down here I just dove headfirst into work and other things, and I found myself playing on the reg way less often. Didn’t help that I had to sell most of my equipment to make rent when I was in a tight spot a couple years ago. It also probably didn’t help that I never really made an effort to look for people to jam with. Eh, such is life. Happy Friday, y’all!

  • I wish I studied Math in college. I’d be making a LOT more money now.

  • I wish I was a better parent, or at least had more confidence in my parenting.
    There are some career choices I wish I’d done differently. Things turned out fine, but my path is pretty much set now, and there were some forks earlier on that I regret not exploring.

    • Ally

      You’re probably a great parent if you’re introspective about it. I think all of us new parents are trying to figure it out and do the best we can.

      • I agree with this. Even if you’re not a “new” parent (if I recall, your kid is older), each stage brings something different to deal with. But if you’re introspective and open with your kid about when you’ve made a mistake and trying to do better, that will go a long way. As will solid support.

    • I get the parent thing. There are choices that I made, or rather decisions I delegated, that I do regret (example, circumcising my sons). I feel like I get better at parenting as the years go on.

    • Parenting is like knowledge. Realizing how much you have to learn is a good thing. If you think you know it all, you’re a fool.

  • skj84

    I wish I had finished college. I was not ready for college when I was younger, despite being bright, I just didn’t have the drive or focus. I was a theatre major so I left to work on my career. It’s come back to haunt me as an adult, especially when I wa job hunting 2 years ago. I know I can go back as an adult, but it’s so hard especially when working full time. I’m not ashamed, but worry about being judged.

  • I wish I was better at scratching. It is a serious hole in my DJ skills and I just don’t put the time in to practice like I should. Also I regret that I didn’t start DJing earlier. I started right after college and I really wish that I had started before. Although the barrier to entry was much higher back then.

  • I regret that I didn’t learn to drive when I was younger, because now it seems like such an uphill battle. At the same time, that’s sort of like regretting being poor (my family just couldn’t afford the costs associated with getting my license, which I couldn’t do anything about) so I have mixed feelings about how much I can actually regret it.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I’m more or less with you on this one. I technically learned to drive and got my license when I was 17, but I have never had my own car, and thus hardly drove at all between high school graduation until nearly age 30. Thus, while I *know* how to drive, I’ve become so out of practice that whenever I do drive it is scary as hell, and thus I tend to avoid it, which prevents me from getting comfortable with it, which causes me to avoid it more, and on and on. I’ve thought about buying a car for the sole purpose of becoming more comfortable driving again. After having hardly driven at all for a decade and a half, using ZipCar or renting at the frequency with which anybody might plausibly do, e.g., like a couple times a month, just isn’t going to get me there.

    • skj84

      agree. I still don’t have my license and I waver between getting it or just letting it be. I really don’t think I’d be a good driver, nor would I enjoy it, but sometimes it can be difficult to get around without a car. Not so much in the city, but when I want to run errands, or travel.

  • I wish I had lived abroad either during or some time after college. I regret not ending past relationships sooner than I did. I wish I had gotten control of my finances at an earlier age. I regret not continuing to study Spanish in college; I have basically lost even rudimentary fluency. I regret never playing an instrument or sport when younger. I wish I had been kinder and more compassionate to my younger self. I regret that it took me into my thirties to be able to look straight at hard things and honestly call them what they are (rather than the dancing around difficult topics that I was taught as a child). I wish I had gotten into therapy in middle or high school.

    • Also, I wish I had been kinder and not ghosted on one lovely individual I dated in my twenties.

    • I hear you on the Spanish–but I’m having a lot of fun re-learning it now that mtpkiddo is in a bilingual school.

      • I would be interested in getting your perspective on having mtpkiddo in a bilingual school as she progresses. We have the option of an immersion program in our district. I just worry that my very poor Spanish skills may make it impossible to help with homework down the line.

        • For sure–I’d be happy to chat. Mtpkiddo is just in PK3, so we are hopefully far from homework. But I’m trying to speak with her in Spanish here and there, and will hopefully increase how much I do that over time.

      • I’m studying Spanish now at age 78. Learned French earlier. It’s never too late.

    • justinbc

      I definitely wish I had continued my Spanish usage after college. I was pretty much speaking-fluent, and now I can really only read some things. And we want to move to S. America and I’ve got to almost start from scratch. Ugh.

  • I wish I were better at forgiving. I wish I had forgiven at every opportunity. You never regret letting things go. You always regret not taking the high road.

    • dcgator

      Hey Gumball, thanks for this—I recently watched a TED talk that kind of touched on this idea…I’ve got two people who used to be in my life that I’ve essentially cut off because of what THEY did to ME, but even then, it’s something I am clearly clinging to. This helps me reinforce that idea that I should reach out; I should be better.

      • I don’t know the circumstances, but I think sometimes you can forgive a person and not hold on to things but also decide that it is best not to reach out. Sometimes, we can forgive but also recognize that healthy and good boundaries means not having those individuals in our life.

        Just my experience — it may not apply to your circumstances, but I thought I would state it. I know in the past I have stayed in touch with people when the relationship was toxic and not good for me, mainly because I thought it was the “right” thing to do and I was being a good person by doing so.

        • Agreed! You can indeed forgive without working to re-establish the relationship.

        • dcgator

          I appreciate that. I think in this specific instance, I do have to reach out, as it is someone I will see socially–there is no getting around it. Currently, I’ve just been avoiding all events when they are attending. That affects me the most, but to a lesser degree, my friends as they try to navigate my hardline stance.

  • I wish I had kept up playing the trumpet in High school and when I was first starting out after grad school I wish I would have taken the federal job and not the contracting job that paid 2K more

    • Ally

      Never too late to pick back up the trumpet, if you want to. I decided in my 30s to take electric bass lessons. I still play and absolutely love it (so much for the old dog, new tricks thing, eh?)!

      • I agree: To all those people lamenting they didn’t learn or keep up with languages, go for it now! I started learning a really difficult — think new alphabet, impossible sounds — language at age 50. It is harder to learn a language at this age than it was when I was younger, but it’s a lot of fun. I think of it as Alzheimer’s prevention, too!

        • Where/How are you going about doing this?

          • Right now I’ve got a one-on-one tutor — pricey but ideal.

            I also took a couple of semesters at Fluent City DC — I highly recommend them, at least the teacher I had, although it’s a young crowd.

            I’ve also tried the International Language Institute and MESALI, which I don’t recommend.

  • topscallop

    I wish I had had the confidence to be myself and take more risks in my young adulthood in terms of relationships – both romantic relationships and friendships. Also I wish I’d learned how not to procrastinate and set up better habits around getting stuff done in school and at work. I think my work ethic suffered because I was able to slide by with good grades in school without trying too hard.

    • Same here, especially with relationships. When I was younger, I often tried to do what I thought would impress others vs. having the confidence to just be myself. I regret that I was unkind to people who “didn’t fit the mold” and could’ve turned out to be great friends or significant others. Good grades came easily to me too and I wish I challenged myself more, esp in high school. I’ve come to realize we all have made mistakes and the best we can do is to learn from them. I often remind myself of a quote from Maya Angelou that reads. . .”I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

    • maxwell smart

      “I wish I had had the confidence to be myself and take more risks…” was my thought as well. I wish I was better at accepting myself for who am I and not letting self-doubt, fear, and over-thinking generally take over, which I think has over-time made me a less colorful person.

  • Ally

    I wish I had been better at picking partners (took me 37 years to find and settle down with Mr. Right). Other than that, no regrets. Happy to dabble and be mediocre at lots of things while still having fun.

  • I regret buying that useless draft horse

  • What a deep question for a Friday.
    I could have finished my BA, worked as an archaeologist in some really cool places, gone on to get my MA in Museology, and landed my dream job at the Smithsonian.
    I could have finished my nursing degree as planned, returned to the UK, and be a subject of the Queen by now.
    But, in truth, I have no real regrets as I feel that every decision I have made has brought me to this particular point in my life. There were many points in my life where I came to a crossroads and took the hard way, and perhaps I wouldn’t have done this looking back. But, I am where I am, I am who I am because of the choices I made and all of the mistakes I have made, and I am absolutely 100% cool with that.

  • I wish I were a better a writer, but I’m working on that. I wish I had taken more statistics classes.

  • I wish I were better at displaying emotions. This is something that’s come up repeatedly with my friend group and significant others throughout the years, and seems to be connected to my upbringing. It generally doesn’t bother me though, except when I feel like I can’t fully engage with others in a particularly emotional moment, whether that’s extremely happy, sad, etc.
    .
    I try to not regret anything I’ve done, because every single decision and action has made me who I am today. There is one person I regret dating (physical/mental/emotional abuse, substance abuse, etc.) when I was much younger and don’t think that going back in time and undoing that would affect anything now in a negative way, so I guess that’s the one thing I do regret.

  • I wish I was better at recognizing the importance of and expressing my feelings, which caused one of the only things I regret – not pursuing someone 20 years ago when I had the chance.

  • I wish I were better at saying no to things – I too often say yes without remembering how important it is to take time for myself. I wish I hadn’t listened to my parents to make pragmatic choices re: college, majors, etc. By the time I stopped listening to them, I had already let my goal of being a writer pass me by. Like others have said, I’m glad for all the choices I’ve made because they’ve led me to where I am now and I’m proud of who I’ve become. But I do, somewhat often, regret not pushing myself more.

    • Re your wish: I wish I was better at saying “Yes” to things! I often find myself saying no because saying yes stresses me out. Can we somehow merge personalities to become one well-rounded person? 🙂

      • Saying yes ultimately stresses me out when I realize I’ve scheduled myself out every night of the week! It does sound like we could each learn something from the other person’s approach. 🙂

  • justinbc

    I wish I had known “what I wanted to be when I grow up” a lot earlier in life, preferably before high school or at least during. School all the way through college was too easy for me, so I was able to focus more on having fun than really planning for what to do when I finished, and as a result wound up wasting a lot of my earlier professional years bouncing around in various fields that ultimately didn’t progress my career. I’m happy where I’m at now, but I could have been here 5-7 years ago and setup to retire even sooner. Having said all that, if my life had taken that route I wouldn’t have met my wife and have the life I have now that I really love, so if I could do it all over again I would do it the same.
    I wish I were better at being more empathetic. I’ve actually gotten way better at it the older I get, but it’s something I know I still have a long ways to go when it relates to a situation that I’m just not familiar with.

  • Regret taking this job. Despite it having promotion potential and a much better commute, I’m absolutely miserable.

  • Quotia Zelda

    I wish I had studied abroad in college, at least for a semester.
    I also regret buying a house when we lived in Texas. I loved that house, but when we bought it, we didn’t realize how short our time in that city would be. It took us 10 months to sell the house and even longer to recover from the economic hit of paying a mortgage plus DC rent for those 10 months.

  • talula

    I wish I was better at believing in myself. Especially when I was younger, I gave up on hobbies I enjoyed because I was afraid I wasn’t good enough. I was in a bad relationship for way too long because I was afraid no one else would want to be with me. My confidence has improved with age, especially in my personal life. But now I find myself struggling in my professional life with the same issues I struggled with as a teenager – not feeling smart enough, good enough, talented enough etc.

    • This. All of this for me as well.

      I also regret not studying abroad in college. I was afraid of how much additional cost/loans I would have to do to take it on…but in the many decades of paying student loans I wish I would have taken the chance.

      I also would love to learn how to speak a foreign language.

      Like eggs I also wish I was better at emotions. I’ve come a long way in therapy over the last couple of years but I feel like I could be a much better partner than I am.

      • I feel like therapy would be a good thing but I just can’t justify the cost for something that isn’t really a major impediment to my daily life. One day!

  • I wish I had learned a language in college and not after. I wish I wasn’t losing said language now due to lack of use. I wish I had traveled more when I was younger and less picky about things like clean bathrooms and comfortable beds.

  • I regret not studying engineering in college. I was recruited to study engineering since they were looking to bring more women into the field, but thought science and math was too easy. Yes, this actually was what I thought. Instead, I thought learning history and political science would be more of a personal challenge for me. PoliSci was interesting, but I think I would like the analytical work these days.

    • justinbc

      I did PolySci / History for undergrad then finished and wondered OK, now wtf do I do with this? I definitely wish I had interacted more with my counselors.

  • I feel like high school and college were a huge missed opportunity for me. I definitely learned a lot, but I think I focused on some of the wrong things. I’m taking a language class in the mornings before work now, and I love it, but if I had just seized the opportunity when I had it (in college!) I could be working on my second, or third language now!
    .
    I’m also worried about whether my future self is going to end up lonely as an old person b/c Mr. s and I decided not to have kids. (and we are basically past the point of changing our minds on that.)

    • just because you decided not to have kids doesn’t mean you cant have a impact. Have you considered volunteering with a Boys and Girls club? Or becoming an emergency foster parent?

      • that is a great comment and a great idea- I have floated the idea of fostering with Mr. s and he wasn’t wild about it. I don’t think it’s something that would work for us right now, but I will probably revisit the conversation down the road.

  • I would have gone to a different grad school. I was sure I wanted to do an niche area of my field that’s only available in NYC or LA, so I went to NYU. Turns out, I hated that niche area. I’m glad for my Masters, and I still use it, but I absolutely would have gone to a smaller state school and saved several tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

  • I regret not studying and working harder in school. I was one of those kids who didn’t have to study to get A’s through most of high school, and it bit me in the ass in college. As a result, I still feel my internal drive and work habits are impaired.

  • houseintherear

    Rave: I have been doing the Heal Your Headache plan for about 3 weeks and I feel AMAZING. Just want to say thanks for the encouragement here a while back. : )

  • I wish I knew how to play the guitar and/or piano properly instead of giving up on learning after just getting the basics.

    I wish there had been a way for me to get my MBA in my 20s. I’m afraid that it’s too late now, both in terms of my career path and because of where I am in my personal life. If I did go to B School, it would’t be until fall 2018 or fall 2019, at which point I’d be 32 or 33, and I’d like to have kids before I hit my mid-30s, so I just don’t think an MBA going to happen at all now.

    POPULACE: feel free to advise me if I’m wrong, please! really. I would welcome any different perspectives/experiences you might have on this.

    • I received my graduate degree on my 29th birthday, so I really didn’t get my professional career going until my early 30s. Almost 30 years later, I am so grateful that I made the decision to return to school. The time I actually spent in graduate school now seems like nothing, but it gave me a fulfilling career in a field that has been a good “fit” for my skills and interests. So I would suggest that if an MBA is important to you, you do everything you can to make it happen. Believe me, the time invested will seem like the blink of an eye twenty years from now.

    • I’m a few months away from being 40 and I’m finishing my second Masters next month. My decision to go back to school put a successful career path on hold, but I knew I was missing a skill that would make me more confident in what I wanted to do.

      As I get older, I frequently come to the conclusion that if you don’t start trying to reach your goals now, you’ll wish you did later. I’m not sure how this will all shake out in the end, but I’m glad I tried. In terms of career, I know that I’ll be more confident talking about the things I want to talk about (…the things that I believe will add value).

      Good luck, BRP. Sounds like you have a lot of good years ahead of you.

    • I am in my second semester of grad school at 34 and there are several people older than me in my classes.
      Also- I am a music teacher. Never too late, people!!!!! Especially if you took lessons for a while when you were younger- it’ll come back.

    • We’re twins! I’m kind of facing the same predicament myself in terms of deciding to go to B school or not. Have been at my current job for about 3 1/2 years, 29 going on 30, really would like to do something to expand my skill set/increase my earning power, but when I weigh the pro’s and con’s I’m just really not sure about grad school (although, the kids thing isn’t really what’s stopping me, it’s more just the soul crushing debt that would ensue afterwards).

    • You could also consider night-time/ part-time programs. DC area has a fair number of them. It takes a bit longer (3 years instead of 2) but the program I’m in is full of married people/ people who have kids by the end of the program/ people who already have kids.

      There are always options. If you’re interested in an MBA, look at the different options & how you can make it happen. There’s no age that’s “too old”

  • I have few regrets, but I wish I’d have come out of the closet at a younger age than 26. Better late than never though.

    • Yep, I was the same age and have the same regret. It didn’t bother me at first, but then I think about all the time I wasted hating myself, feeling shame, etc. Oh well, we’re here now!

  • I regret spending way too much time fighting introversion before I was able to understand and embrace it.

    After reading all these comments on the topic, I feel extremely lucky to have studied abroad (Salamanca, Spain). Initially the unspoken motivation was to escape my military college for a semester, but in hindsight it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I didn’t want to come home and somehow fell into an internship with the Fulbright Commission in Madrid for a year. In any case, I was able to check off some bucket list items like running with the bulls in Pamplona in my early 20s. On the flip side, I’m fairly certain some of these experiences shaved a few years off my life.

  • I wish I was better at making friends. I wish I’d found a way to stay living overseas 15 years ago instead of coming back to the States.

  • I wish I hadn’t gone to law school. In retrospect, it’s easy to see how I didn’t really understand/couldn’t accurately elaborate upon the reasons why I was going (and the incorrect conventional wisdom that supported that notion). The poor career prospects have me looking to move back into the field I was in before law school, but the student loan debt makes my income requirements an extra challenge to finding a new position that will work.

    • I graduated from law school in 2011 and for a few years I definitely regretted it. Now, I’m not so sure. Or at least, I’ve made peace with my $200K debt load (laughing/crying emoji face).
      .
      In my case, I was making low 30s to low 40s in the three years after college, before I went to law school. I have a lot more debt now, BUT [fingers crossed] it will all be forgiven through the PSLF program in 5 years from now, AND I am making 6 figures but I still have a good work life balance because I work for the government. In my sliding doors scenario where I never went to law school I don’t know that I ever achieved a 6 figure salary, at least not with the work/life balance I have now as a government lawyer.

  • I wish I hadn’t let that one job in New York get the best of me (I was depressed and unhealthy for two years – just miserable)

    I wish I hadn’t had feelings for that one guy that didn’t deserve it.

    I wish I had slept with that Turkish guy while I was on a break with that other guy that totally didn’t deserve it

    I wish I had forgiven my family member earlier so we could have had more time reconnecting

  • I regret that I stopped talking to my Dad before he died. Not that I didn’t want to talk to him, but because he had his salivary glands removed it was hard to understand him…which was hard to deal with at 22.

    I wish I wasn’t so damn scared all the time. I’m in a job going nowhere, that I’m tired of, but I’m too damn terrified of failure and change to actually make a move.

    I regret staying in my last relationship for waaaaaaay too long–years too long, actually. I was so unhappy, and became an awful, bitchy girlfriend, and thus hated myself. Hindsight is 20/20…*sigh*

  • Emmaleigh504

    I regret not having my shit together in my 20s, but not too much b/c I had a lot of fun.
    I wish I had bought a condo when I first moved here, but I didn’t know I would stay this long.

  • I wish that when my ex told me on our second date that he was basically going to be a jerk, that I had believed him and not tried to prove him wrong. If I had walked away then, two things could have happened:
    1. I would have avoided a lot of heartache and hurt; or
    2. He would have realized that I wasn’t going to be his emotional punching bag and possibly rose to my expectations
    Instead, I took a lot of emotional abuse for far too long before I got the courage to leave.

    People, when someone tells you something bad about themselves, believe them!!! It’s a warning! Be open to hearing it.

  • I did study abroad in college and loved it, so much that I wanted to work abroad after graduating. But I never did. Instead, I went straight to grad school. I regret that. I should have done Peace Corps or taught abroad or something. I know I could still find ways to work abroad, but now I have a Serious Career and have to be around for my older parents, so it’s unlikely.
    In a related regret, I wish I had been more outgoing and bold in my early 20s (socially and in general).
    On a lighter note I wish I was better at cleaning and organizing.

  • I wish I were better at/was a natural at mathematics, and with systemically keeping a journal; I find I admire people with these skills, that I lack, and that I don’t seem to want to overcome? My study skills are better now in middle-age, which helps with the math thing, but still — math does not come naturally to me, and I wish it did…. The skill I “do” have that others lack is a love of public speaking. No fear of audiences. Quite the contrary. And I feel sorry for people who have this fear, since I get so much joy from it. I guess we’re just all different!

  • I wish I were better at time management and at not procrastinating. I also wish I were better at making the effort to initiate social things. (I think I used to be better at the latter than I am now, but have slipped.)
    .
    I wish I had not gotten into a relationship with my jealous and possessive college boyfriend. Not only was it a bad relationship in itself, it also took me away from a college extracurricular that I liked, was kind of socially isolating, and resulted in my passing up some opportunities that could’ve made a big difference. (I didn’t apply for a special selective study-abroad program that I had a good shot of being selected for, and after graduating, when I got into a teaching-abroad program off the waiting list, I turned it down.)
    .
    I wish I’d done an internship in college. (I wish I’d been able to do study abroad, but it wasn’t an option — other than the selective program I didn’t apply for — because my school had only summer study-abroad programs and my scholarship didn’t cover them.)
    .
    I wish I’d known that my current field was an option — if I had, maybe I wouldn’t have gone to grad school. (And I wish I’d started in the federal government straight out of undergrad.) I wish I’d spent two years teaching English in Japan instead of just one.
    .
    I wish I’d insisted on being released from my lease when I was in roach-infested grad student housing. And I wish I’d sold my condo before the bubble burst in 2008.

    • I wish now that I had broken up this long post into two separate posts. 😉

      • I spent two years teaching in Japan — why do you wish you had stayed two years? Curious!

        • Because it took a good six months to get settled in and stop being homesick, and to start making friends.
          .
          I enjoyed the second six months WAY more than the first six months, and by the time I had to leave, I didn’t really want to go. (I’d already applied and been accepted to grad school — my plan the whole time was to be there for only a year.)

    • Speaking of your first–let’s meet up for lunch again!

    • justinbc

      Surely the condo is worth a lot more now than what it would have been in 08 though??

      • I think it’s worth something like $30K-$40K less now than it would’ve been had I sold at the peak.
        .
        It’s still worth more now than when I bought it, so that’s good. The problem now is more that because of the building’s particular characteristics, it’s much harder for potential buyers to get financing now than it was before. And I think that has made the appreciation in the past several years somewhat stagnant.

        • HaileUnlikely

          Yeah, bummer.
          .
          Regarding MadMax’s comment – I believe there are still several neighborhoods in DC where prices have not yet rebounded to where they were just before the bust. The sustained significant appreciation has mainly been in neighborhoods that used to be regarded as no-go zones but are now gentrifying rapidly. Places regarded as the hip neighborhoods 15 years ago, and places that were and still are just solid middle-class neighborhoods that were never perceived as being “in need of” gentrification (for lack of a nicer way to put it) went way high before the bust, and have recovered a lot, but in some cases are still lower than they were right before the bust.

          • justinbc

            Yeah but IIRC textdoc lives in Petworth (or one of those adjacent neighborhoods that argue about boundaries), which has seen quite a lot of development since 08. Maybe not as much as people pined for when they were told it was up and coming many years ago, but still more than other areas that far north of the central business district.

          • MadMax — That’s true about my current neighborhood (northern Park View), but the appreciation of my house is basically an “on paper” thing, as I’m not planning to sell any time soon. (I’ll probably stay here until I get to be too old to deal with stairs any more.)
            .
            What HaileUnlikely says is true — property values in places like Park View and Petworth have skyrocketed in recent years, whereas more “established” neighborhoods have been appreciating much more slowly and in some cases aren’t back to their circa-2007 peak.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Do you have another condo somewhere else in addition to your home in Park View? (I seem to recall your having said something implying that was the case at some point but I’m not sure whether I understood correctly)

          • HaileUnlikely — Yep, condo in Adams Morgan (rented out).

          • And I do consider myself very fortunate to be in a position to own two properties. It’s just that I didn’t really want to be a landlord — I would have preferred to have been able to sell the condo and put the proceeds into the house.

          • justinbc

            Ah, didn’t realize you were talking about another property, that makes way more sense!

          • justinbc

            (hopefully the hotel helps continue the push in Adams Morgan towards the more adult crowd)

  • I wish I had been born to healthier parents. It took SO much therapy and SO much work for me to get to the point where I am now (happy marriage, beginnings of a career I love). I am super proud of the work I did to overcome my childhood (abusive mentally ill mother, depressive shut down father) to get where I am, but it took so much work, and I am about 10 years behind my healthier peers with In getting to both a healthy marriage and a real career. I don’t have many regrets, though, because I know I did well with the “stuff” that was given to me. I am very, very grateful to therapy.

  • Good question, POP. I wish I was better at exercising. It seems impossible to motivate myself to do it, even though I sit all day and my body feels awful and I know it would improve my mental and physical health. I also wish I was better at relationships with family and friends…I know that when my parents die I will regret being far away from them for so long. I regret that I didn’t realize my own potential and worth earlier in life. I spent time with people who didn’t deserve me, I didn’t always try with school and other activities. I also regret that I waited so long to start taking anti-depressants.

  • I wish I was better at speaking foreign languages. I took French, Italian, Spanish, and Latin and I’m not fluent in any of them. I regret not working harder in those classes! I wish I was better at saving money. I wish I didn’t get such social anxiety when meeting new people/was more of an extrovert. I also wish I was better at setting and meeting goals for myself…somehow I get really into something and then I lose the motivation (like weight loss, meal planning, trying to relearn a language, money saving plans, EVERYTHING!). Other than that stuff, life is pretty good!

  • I Dont Get It

    I wish I was better at making and maintaining friendships. Oh and clogging.

    What do I wish I had done differently? Hmm…despite some bad decisions I made in the past, I think at the time I tried to make the best possible decision considering the information on hand. I don’t beat myself up over it. Nobody got time for that!

  • I wish that I was less self-centered and self-absorbed. I got married relatively late in life. As my spouse and I approach our third anniversary, I’ve come to realize that I spent so many years with things being “all about me” that it’s really a challenge to break out of that mold. My husband recognizes this, and I think we’re navigating the issue reasonably well, but it’s really been a revelation for me. I actually think there are some valid reasons that I am this way based on my childhood and young adulthood. I just think it would be nice to be one of those people who just selflessly thinks of others first without having to be so damn intentional about it. Unfortunately, that ain’t me.

    In terms of something I would have done differently, while I’ve certainly had my ups and down along life’s highway, I feel like thus far things have turned out pretty darned well considering the possible alternatives.

  • I wish I was better at being intimate with a partner (all of it: personal, emotional, physical, verbal, etc).

    I regret not being more adamant and independent about finding a way to go to boarding school during my high school years despite my dad’s NOs. I think I’d be much more functional in this respect had I been able to escape the toxic dump that was my family.

    That being said, career-wise everything is perfect. I’m grateful every day for that.

  • maxwell smart

    I wish I knew what happened when I was 7 that resulted in one day being a confident swimmer to the next day being terrified of the pool and consequently not being able to swim since and generally being terrified of the pool/ocean, etc.

    I wish, despite appearances, I was actually a confident person.

    I regret spending my 20’s doing the responsible thing (school, work) and not being a little more reckless, taking more risks and chances, and exploring more.

    I regret that time I went to steak n egg at 2am after a night of heavy drinking.

  • As others have said, I regret not studying engineering. I somehow felt I didn’t have the aptitude for it – but that was so silly in hindsight. You also can’t make the best career decisions when you are 18. I also think I could have taken more risks, I am so risk adverse. But all that said, I have a secure life and a wonderful partner in a beautiful city. I don’t think I was trade that for a chance on something else.

    All these people wishing they kept up with music! I too was sad I never committed to playing guitar, and two years ago I actually started practicing. I am not great now, but recorded an ep with some friends last summer. It is never too late!! Playing music is so fun. Start simple, particularly for guitar there are so many songs you can play with a few chords. Once you find yourself actually playing things, the next steps seem so much easier.

  • Allison

    The photo for today’s post makes the best phone wallpaper ever. <3

  • Wish I had known that I wanted to settle down earlier in life and had more children, not to mention not hurting as as many as I did before I had that realization.

  • I wish I had written down full names and addresses of all the people I met on my travels. I spent over 20 years hitchiking/sailing/working all over the world and have a huge box of journals, but they are painfully short of useful details. (This was 1976-1995, so pre-internet.) I have pages and pages of adventure with “Chris” or “Maggie” but no idea who they are now, and wish I could find them.

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