Like most humans, I try not to have a lot of regrets. I am truly happy with the way things have gone in my life thus far (knock on wood) and am convinced that every experience I've had has helped shape the person I am today.
That being said, I'm not going to lie and say I'm 100 percent happy with the way I've handled certain things in my life. Although there are not situations I necessarily wish I'd avoided, or wish hadn't been thrust upon me, there are situations I wish I had responded to differently. I may not be able to travel back in time (though Amy Poehler's book tells me otherwise), I can, upon reflection, respond differently now.
In retrospect, here is a definitive list of the things I wish I'd said:
- "You owe me an apology." When I was 5, I was on a T-ball team and a little boy spit in my face. I don't know why, or why he was not reprimanded, or who told him this was appropriate behavior, but it happened. Instead of expressing my right to function in a T-ball community free of spit, I remember wiping my face off and moving to the other side of the bench. Kid should've gotten in trouble, or at least apologized.
- "I look fucking fabulous." See this article.
- "I don't think we should do this anymore." This is cheating a little, because I did say this (okay, I've said it many times) in response to a series of unhealthy relationships I let myself be a part of. But I didn't ever stick to it, especially when alcohol and parties and texting were involved. So instead of wishing I said it, I wish I had stuck to my guns -- these relationships were unhealthy, I knew it, and I pretended not to care.
- "I don't like that nickname." In high school, I had a very good guy friend that called me "elf" because I had slightly-pointy ears that I tended to tuck my hair behind. I loathed this nickname, but liked the fact that this older boy and I were at a nickname-level of closeness.
- "No, I will not do push ups in your classroom." In eighth grade, I was instructed to do 10 pushups in my English teacher's classroom in exchange for turning in late homework. Despite the nagging gut feeling that this was completely inappropriate, I did it. I wish I had told him to go screw himself, or at least that I wasn't okay with this assignment.
- "My butt is not here for you to slap." At my first 6th grade dance, an older (8th grade) boy slapped my ass. It made me inexplicably uncomfortable -- but my friends didn't seem to think it was a big deal, so I didn't say anything.
- "Don't typecast me." After getting my first (and currently only) tattoo, I was told not to get more because it would ruin my "innocent appeal."Thanks but no thanks for the helpful tip, bro.
- "I don't owe you an explanation." There are far too many times that I have apologized, and rationalized, things that I did not need to feel bad about. No, I'm not sorry for not wanting to lie to my mom and sneak out of my bedroom window. No, I'm not sorry for not having sex with you. I didn't want to, and that should have been explanation enough -- certainly not reason for me to be called a homebody, or a tease.
- "I believe in this piece." As a writer, I have too often let pieces I believed in fall to the wayside because of outside criticism. I wish I had stood up for more of the stories that I believed needed to be told, and not misinterpreted other people's opinions for the definitive truth.
- "Don't belittle me." This could apply to various situations, but the first that comes to mind is an incident where I was aggressively diminished and mocked by an elementary school teacher. The second is a time my practice outfit was criticized by a softball coach, because I liked to wear bows in my hair. There have been countless times I have wanted to say this, and I haven't.
I say these things here not only as a quasi-redemption for the missed opportunities that often arise in times of reflection, but also as a way to hold myself accountable from this point on. I may have not said these things in the past, but I sure as hell plan on saying them in the future -- and really, that's the whole point, isn't it?