As we grow older, we always think of the past with greater opportunities. And the regrets usually are:
I could have reacted in that situation with more grace and gravity.
I shouldn’t have listened to him or her. I think it’s too late to start now.
I think I was very rude. I truly miss him/her.
I think I could have seized more opportunities, had I efficiently used my time.
There is always a lot of could and would when we drive back to visit our past. And looking back from the point where we are presently standing, there is a belief that,
“I think I could have done things differently there”
The reason I’m writing this today is that I was asked at a Toastmaster’s meet to give an impromptu 1-2 minute speech on the topic – “If I have to relive any age of my life. what would it be?”
Now breathing successfully for the past 30 years, this question reflected on life’s many failures and how I didn’t take full responsibility for it.
And so I started reminiscing memories starting from my junior school, high school, college, and my present work experiences.
The question brought back a flood of childhood memories when I was 8 years old. Experiences of curiosity, never give up attitude, creativity, strong confidence and high-self esteem.
At the age of 8, I was not the kind of person who would easily give up on anything that would fascinate or excite me.
I wouldn’t budge on my decisions even if someone discouraged, injected fear, criticized or wouldn’t appreciate.
Once I was asked to wear a skirt for a school play. I still remember that more than the embarrassment of wearing a girl dress, I was more excited about getting on to the stage for the play.
The reason why I would love to relive this 8-year old phase of my life is that I was a boy who had the confidence to try new things and the courage in pursuing interests that would nurture my heart, mind, and soul.
The age where I cared less about the opinions, judgments, and critics of others and cared more about being true to myself.
But today, most of the decisions and actions are influenced by the perception or opinions of others. The more I have given into the doubts and fears of others, I have only missed many opportunities along the way.
Today a two-letter question has broken plenty of dreams, killed many ideas and drowned people into the ocean of self-doubt, despair, and low self-esteem. And the question is-
- The idea is great, What-if I fail?
- What if I can’t do it?
- I think I should ask, but What-if I get rejected?
- What if he/she leaves me?
With every What-ifs, the pool of negativity grows larger and deeper.
But at the age of 8, I wouldn’t allow the fear of what-ifs prevent me from doing the things that I wanted to do.
If I wanted to play with someone, without a second hesitating, I would ask.
If I wanted to participate in a school competition, I would be excited rather than doubt – what-if I lose or what-if people made fun of me.
I wouldn’t risk squandering time and missing out opportunities just because a naysayer decides to spew venom into my ideas, curiosity, and creativity.
“But today I feel more disconnected with myself than ever before. Lost in the woods, asking people, the way out. And the more I’m asking the more I’m wandering.”
And as I’m taking the trip down the childhood experiences my questions have changed to what do I want to accomplish and what feels right to me instead of often falling prey to the question, what will people think of me.
I now know what I want. Do what feels right to me. And no more allow the assumed thoughts of others dictate my choices, life’s opportunities, and freedom.