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Recent Letter to the ElderWisdomCircle™

SELF-IMPROVEMENT: So Many Regrets
Letter #: 402472
Category: Self-Improvement

Original Letter

Hi! I'm finishing my freshman year of college as a music major and I have so many regrets and have made so many mistakes that I don't know how to handle. 

For one thing, I never really hit the ground running with my music and my career like I meant to, purely because I was always too afraid and always told myself I would do it later, but now everyone around me is so far ahead of me and I feel like I've missed my opportunity. I feel like I've completely wasted my time, and I don't know how to finish my freshman year feeling like I actually achieved something this year. 

More important than that, though, I don't know how to let go of all my regrets. I've made so many mistakes this year, more than and different than the regrets most college freshman have. I finally got the fresh start I wanted so badly when I came to college, and I was going to become the person I wanted to be and let go of my regrets from the past since no one knew them. But then I just continued making mistakes and being the awful person I hated for so long. Even though I have made incredible friends (who I don't know why they like me), I feel like I really don't like the person I am, and I feel like it's too late to start being the person I want to be. 

They say that big life changes like going to college reveals who you really are and allows you to get to know yourself better, but all I've really discovered about myself is that I'm even worse than I thought I was before. I feel like I've already made a bad reputation for myself and I've being defined by my mistakes, because that's what people who know me in college see. I don't know how to have another fresh start, or to start getting the people around me to see me in the light I want to be seen in. Is it even possible to let go of my regrets? Is it possible to be the person I want to be? How do I forgive myself for all of my mistakes and get the people around me to accept the person I want to be, even though they already know me as the person I have introduced to them? 

I feel like I'm going through an identity crisis or something. The person I want to be is so far away from me, and it's too late to go back and redo my fresh start now, and I don't know the next time I will gain a fresh start. I just feel so horrible right now.

Elder Response

Mary I’m really sorry you feel so badly, particularly about yourself.  But I do have to say I’m a little puzzled.  You seem focused on so many regrets and so many mistakes and yet I don’t see any of them listed.  Ok, perhaps one; you say you didn’t hit the ground running with your music and your career like you thought you should.  In my opinion, if that is the sum total of your mistakes and regrets you should count your blessings.  And if the career you are referring to is music, I wouldn’t say you should be especially worried about hitting the ground running if you are in your first year of college study for that career.

But perhaps there are other things not listed in your letter.  I know sometimes it just seems like everything piles up -- that you are in the middle of this vast expanse of choices and possibilities and great expectations for yourself.  But the number of choices and your expectations can lead to pressure and impatience and it can feel almost paralyzing.

Much of your letter indicates you are not the person you want to be.  I would urge you to focus less on the person you want to be and more on liking the person you are.  You know, the one with all of the incredible friends who seem to like you just fine.  What do they know that you don’t?  They would probably ask why the person they like is being so hard on herself.   In trying to become someone else, you are shortchanging the person you already are.

In my opinion you will not be as effective if you’re convinced tomorrow needs to be better than today.  Instead of looking for a guarantee that tomorrow will be valuable, know that today is valuable—that you’re not wasting time, but rather living a process of discovery.  Instead of waiting for a big fresh start, make each day a little fresh start.   Instead of aiming to discover the one thing you’re supposed to do with your life, focus on discovering the one thing you want to try right now, knowing that you can change direction any time. And that changing direction won’t be something to regret, its just part of the process. 

Mary you are young, you have great friends and you have plenty of time.  Learn to like you who you are now and take one step at a time to evolve into who you will eventually be.  Good luck!

Best Regards,

Oslo


    

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