It can be a struggle to let things go - from friendships to fights, writing ideas to unobtainable goals, and especially the choices we've made. When I find myself with a free moment for some radical thinking, I entertain thoughts of what life might have been like if I'd did things differently. I imagine the domino effect changing one facet of my life might lead to. What if I didn't move out of my family home when I was seventeen, if I went to school instead and ended my first serious relationship three years earlier. For the most part, this is harmless pondering, just a bundle of 'what-ifs' that have no real bearing on the happiness of right now. I know, in my heart of hearts, those choices brought me to this point, and for the most part 'this point' is quite good.
Sure, I have bad days where I am unsure of how I got here and feel unfulfilled and lost, but I'm positive these thoughts are essentially human and pretty common. From what I gather, we all feel unsure, afraid, and confused at times. It's life, after all, and it's pretty baffling. In a lot of ways, it's therapeutic to have these moments, so when you're back on track you can recognize progress and enjoy the forward motion. It's the 'should haves' that really get under my skin, though. It's one thing to ponder what life would be like if you'd made a different choice, it's another to constantly tell yourself you 'should (or should not) have' done something.
Should (or should not) have = regret.
And regrets are not welcome here.
Don't get me wrong, I 'should have' myself from time-to-time, but I work hard to eradicate the words from my vernacular. I know I've made mistakes, but I can't change them. Regrets are such a waste of time and energy. The struggle is real, but I like to think I am making progress, which is why it's most frustrating when someone else comes along and 'shoulds' all over me. It makes me want to throw up a hand and say, "Stop."
Stop bringing up things I can't change. Stop reminding me of my mistakes. If you think I've forgotten, I haven't. My memory is a steel trap and nothing slips through, even when I say it has. Stop digging up the poor choices I've made. And stop harping about a past I cannot change. Last time I checked, Doc Brown's DeLorean didn't make it off the assembly line, so time travelling back in time to fix what I broke is off the table.
Yes, maybe I should have, but guess what? I didn't.