This will probably be hard to explain due to a lack of exact dates and keeping things anonymous but I’ll try.
When I was young I really wanted to be a writer. I got internships in that both summers and then in my last semester I had a really big internship where I spent a semester in a big city working as an intern for a big organization. Honestly, I was basically a coffee fetcher, but it was fun and I fetched coffee for some big names.
After college, I returend to Podunk and got a small writing job locally. There was a part of me that wanted to go back to the back city and pursue a life there as a writer. It didn’t seem far fetched. As a young person in my early 20s, I’d already gotten a lot of experience. The rents wanted me to pursue something more practical and while I don’t want to throw them under the bus for doing what parents do and I realize it was up to me follow through with what I wanted, I ultimately chose the practical.
Do I blame them? A bit. Do I blame myself the most? Of course. There comes a time in adult life where you have to realize your parents don’t know everything and you will have to defy and disappoint them. Don’t worry though because either way it will work out great for them. If you defy them and do what you want and it fails, they can say I told you so forever. If you defy them and do what you want and it succeeds, they’ll say they were behind you all along and it was their idea. Also, fun fact, if you obey them and do what they want and it fails, they’ll say well you should have been your own man and what do they know.
Anyway, I blame myself entirely. It is a week man who blames others for their failings.
I told myself I’d do the practical for a while and then after I’ve made some money I’ll do what I actually want. (Kids, FYI this doesn’t happen. Don’t buy that shit if someone tells you it does.)
Long story short, the practical thing didn’t work out. At that point I thought maybe I should go back to my true love of writing.
But I was a wuss. So I did another practical thing. This practical thing actually worked out.
I do feel like I cheated myself though. The writing world had accepted me early and I ended up worrying that I’d end up 30 and failed because I wasn’t being paid much at 20. Now I realize that yeah, that just happens. You have to pay your dues but good for you, your foot is in the door. Your feet are on the first rung of the ladder, so keep climbing.
At this point now, I’m 40. I’m self sufficient. I suffered a lot though and to be honest, a lack of stability made relationships difficult. I had to come to grips this year with the fact that it’s too late to have children. Technically, I can have them forever but all the women in my age bracket are closed down for baby business.
Could I adopt a little Chinese kid? Sure. Do I fear they’ll send me a faulty one on purpose and refuse to take it back? All the big ticket purchases I’ve made in recent years where I open the box only to find that the item is missing a part such that someone at the factory was asleep at the switch tells me yes. (Was this meant as a joke? Partially.)
There’s nothing I can do about it now, but the regret is palpable. I had my foot in the door in what I wanted at an early age. Then I talked myself out of it. Then when that failed I was free to go back to what I wanted but I chickened out again. Ergo, had I just stuck like ten straight years in what I wanted, I probably would have gotten to be where I wanted.
Although sometimes now I think maybe it worked out because I guess I’ll never know for sure writing would have worked out.
I guess we never know how things work until we do them. When they don’t work, we are certain the opposite course would have been a success.
Question – How do I cope with this regret?
My answer – Keep writing self published books and hope one of them hits.
Feel free to offer your answers in the comments.