Friday, July 15, 2016

Why regret is okay

During the so long I wanted to gouge my eyes out two hours I was lining up with Middle Son and Youngest Son for the X Factor Australia auditions last week (and that's with allocated tickets), I got chatting to a girl behind me in the line (as you do). Turns out she had auditioned for X Factor herself when she was sixteen (I didn't ask her age, but she couldn't have been more than eighteen or nineteen) but hadn't made it to the auditions that are held in front of a studio audience. (Apparently the process is quite long: a video audition followed by two further auditions in front of producers etc before you're invited to do your thing in front of the judges.)

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. ie Never. 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.


Sunday, July 10, 2016


Death puts a lot of things in to perspective. You don't worry about the little things. You realise there's a lot of crap you care about that you really shouldn't, and that includes relationships, which also includes, of course, friendships.

Friends have come in and out of my life over the years, as they do with all of us. Some friendships I have consciously ended for whatever reason. There was this one girl I used to be friends with years ago who constantly put me, as well as our mutual friends, down at any given opportunity - often in front of our partners and/or other friends. She did it one time too many with me, and in front of someone I very much cared (still care!) for: Mr A. So I ceased all contact with her. Just like that (*clicks fingers*). I never picked up the phone to call her or return another phone call of hers. Nor have I friended her on Facebook (even though FB has suggested her now and then) and I never will. (There are some people who really shouldn't be in your life.)

I guess I 'ghosted' her. Ghosting is the act of ceasing all contact/communication with someone. You stop returning calls/texts/emails/Facebook messages. In the social media world, you unfollow, block and unfriend. You don't offer explanations, you just cut them out of your life until they get the message.

Ghosting isn't something that I would choose to do lightly. I really do reserve it for the people who don't deserve my contact, like the above mentioned girl.

There was also one guy that Mr A and I mutually ghosted. He completely played us off against one another to find out some information he really wanted to find out (long story)! The way he did it was so manipulative and calculated, Mr A and I felt we just couldn't keep in contact with him after that. He attempted to send an email once, and in that email he absolutely pinpointed the reason why we 'might have ceased contact' with him. That's because he knew. He knew what he'd done.


I've been ghosted before too. The most notable was when my old friend - the one who used to refer to me, my husband and our children as 'family' just stopped all contact one day. It hurt. In all honesty, it still hurts sometimes. Just when I think I'm over it, I start to think about it again. What went wrong? It's just hard to accept how close you can be with someone and then suddenly they shut you out. In the case of the first two friends I mentioned, we were friends, but not 'close' like I was with this friend. It was the question 'Why?' that haunted me for so long after my friend ceased contact. At least, if she'd offered an explanation - as much as it may have hurt or as much as I may have disagreed with it - at least I'd know. You know? I've had to accept, over time, that I will probably never know the reason behind  her decision. I'd happily welcome an explanation from her, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for it either.

Everyone experiences ghosting. In fact, I can't give you one person's name who hasn't, and it's important to realise that if you're ghosted, there's probably some reason behind it. It's never for no reason at all. But sometimes it's not even about you, it's about them. I have to admit, I've often wondered if my old friend was going through something she didn't want me to know about? Who knows. Certainly, I've known of people who have ended up ghosting someone because their partner didn't like them. Whatever the reason though - as silly and/or minor you may think it is - it still happens for a reason. Not knowing why is hard - but it is what it is.

The truth is that life is filled with uncertainty, but what my parents' deaths have shown me is that I have to celebrate those who choose to be in my life, and that I choose to have in my life. In the Sydney storms we had about a month ago, it was nice that so many people contacted me to check we were okay here on the northern beaches. (We were, we are.) Real friends care. (And they don't ignore you when a parent dies either.)

It's really nice to know there are still so many people who care and are very much still a big part of my life. It's better to have people in your life who actually want to be in it anyway. Right?