We talked about her singing quite a bit; she recently made the decision to start singing in Arabic, her native language. When I asked if she'd thought about auditioning for any other singing or talent show, or perhaps the X Factor again, she said that she had made the decision in recent months to do her 'own thing' with her music now, and returning to her cultural roots seemed the natural next step for her.
Her music career almost took a detour to the US. A couple of years ago, she was accepted in to a prestigious music school in LA, but after much consideration, eventually turned the offer down. Her father, she said, had talked her out of going. He said to live in LA would be expensive for her, pointed out she would have no friends or family there, and because he was unwell at the time (since recovered), she felt that, ultimately, he wanted her to stay in Sydney.
Turning down such an opportunity seemed a pretty big deal to me. 'Do you regret not going?' I asked.
'Well, of course, but in my culture, regret isn't something that is encouraged. It is not right in our culture to have regret,' she explained.
I thought about this for a second, 'Well, over the years I've come to believe that having regrets in life is okay. Regret teaches you. If you have regret about something, chances are you won't want to experience that feeling again, so regret can teach you what not to do in the future. I think so long as you don't hold on to the regret, and rather just accept it and learn from it, then that's okay.'
I could see she was carefully considering my words. She smiled and nodded in agreement. 'Yeah,' she said, 'I guess that's true. I like that.'
I used to say that I had 'very few' regrets in life, or 'I don't regret anything' but that's not really true. If I think about it, there are a number of things I have said/done or haven't said/done that I wish I hadn't/had. However, I try very hard not to hang on to the regret, because I know every experience - good or bad - has taught me something and shaped who I am today. For example, regretting saying 'yes' to things I really didn't want to say yes to, and would later regret doing, meant I soon learned the art of getting picky. And realising too late that I regretted throwing away so many letters and postcards and communication I'd received from friends and family over the years means I'm now very thoughtful about what I keep and what I throw away/delete.
And then there's the X Factor auditions. There were definitely moments I regretted clicking on the link on Twitter that took me to the free tickets in the first place! Like when we had to line up for TWO HOURS and when we ended up getting home TWO HOURS later than originally planned. I'll be thinking twice before doing that again.
See? Regret gets a bad wrap. We should accept it as part and parcel of life, and own our regrets. Accept that we have them. Regret shouldn't feel like the end of the road, but an alternative route to show us which way we should be heading.