Featured Image Source: lesinspires.com
You might be smirking at the title right now. What does a 26-year old know about life and regrets? She has not even covered a third of her life’s journey. She probably doesn’t even know yet what life’s hardships feel like.
Well, you have a point. I am hardly experienced with any of the innumerable and profound experiences that one can possible go through in his or her lifetime, nor am I in a position to advise others. And to be frank, the point of this article is not to give any kind of suggestions on life choices. I know very well that I am not eligible for that. I am here to raise some questions that haunt me from time to time, especially when it strikes me that death is inevitable and our lifespan is but a drop in the ocean of the cosmic timeline.
Why am I talking about it today? Well I woke up today to a text from my Dad that announced the very saddening news of the demise of one of the greatest scientists of our time, Professor Stephen Hawking. He was 76, but he lived a life like no other. At a very young age, he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease that is known to affect the brain and spinal cord, and slowly cut off all muscle movements, causing paralysis in the entire body, and eventually death. The doctors gave him five years or less. But he lived with it for more than 50 years, fully dependent on his computer-based communication system, but at the same time igniting hope in millions of people across the globe about winning against death. But now he is gone.
So will we all, one day. We’ll stop breathing, our hearts will stop beating, we’ll be burnt into ashes or buried underneath the ground, and we’ll decay and rejoin the earth upon which we stand so proudly right now.
But what can we do till then?
We have to learn how to love the life we are living, and at the same time live the life we love. That might sound too difficult, but I believe it is possible. There are two kinds of regrets, big ones and small ones. Very simply. The big ones are the ones where you desperately wish you can go back in time and undo what you did – for example, if you caused a great harm to someone in some way, even if unintentionally. Small regrets are those that affect you momentarily and you just think about how stupid you were and move on – for example, forgetting to write something in an examination.
Guess what’s common in both these cases? Number 1: You can’t go back in time and fix anything you screwed up. Number 2: You can always learn something from your screw-ups, whether it was big or small.
And mistakes WILL happen, no matter how much you try. Maybe they will happen less in areas that you have already made mistakes before, because you are more careful now in those particular areas. But aren’t there infinite number of such ‘areas’? You as an individual have a personal, professional, social and intellectual space. And each of these spaces have infinite subspaces that are often interlinked. You might make a mistake at work because you are disturbed by a fight with your partner. It’s normal. It’s human. But how do we rise above these regrets and NOT lose our self-worth and confidence in the process? That is the question.
- Why do we believe that we are wrong? A lot of us suffer from insecurities about our decisions because we feel we don’t have enough support. We are a species that relies on a nod from someone else to go ahead with a plan, or to simply invest our time and energy in beliefs that we are meant to hold. But we may not be wrong at all. Maybe everyone else just has different opinions. How about that?
- What does it take to accept the differences? What I wrote above brings me to this second point. Differences in opinion is a part of day-to-day life. You might think pineapple is the best fruit on Earth, but your friend refuses to touch it. Everyone can have different life choices that might be completely incomprehensible to you. And it is allowed. We are allowed to be beyond the realm of comprehension of others. Accept it.
- Why do we get so offended? Was someone rude to you today? Was it rudeness, or is it just they way they talk? Observe. It might be how they are in general, or maybe you did piss them off in some way. In any case, move on. Buy them a coffee.
- Why do we pretend so much? You don’t need to say something witty or wear something fancy to sound or look cool. Know who you are, what you are, because that is the best version of yourself. People who will accept you for this version are the ones you want to keep in your life.
- Why are we shy to talk? We have all been there – sleepless nights, panic attacks, palpitations. Admit it or not. You can’t be in your twenties or thirties and not have suffered from anxiety and/or depression, even if mildly. These are the demons that keep hiding under your bed and keep showing up from time to time. And oftentimes, you don’t know why. Is there any particular event that triggers your rapid heartbeat at night? Is there something that caused you to breathe heavily all of a sudden? You never know. But everyone of us can find a friend or a parent or a sibling that we can confide in. Believe me, talking and listening can do wonders that no medicine in the world can.
- How can we take that leap? Last but not the least, do it ! Whatever you had dreamt of all your life, even if it scares the shit out of you. This might be the most difficult one, but what it will guarantee is an exponential boost in self-esteem and confidence. You don’t need a second person’s approval for that.
Life is complicated, ain’t it? But let’s also acknowledge how funny it is. It makes us laugh, cry, and do unimaginable things. We love ourselves today, we might hate ourselves tomorrow. We might love someone today, but hate them tomorrow. But also, we might live today, but die tomorrow. So why not make our today worth it?
“Life would be tragic, if it weren’t funny.” – Stephen Hawking