Things I Might Have Done Differently

“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”
– Newton’s First Law of Motion

hindsight_2Hindsight is, as they say, 20/20. I’m not a person who really lives with regrets, I find them unhelpful (unless real and valid guilt is motivating you to change past behaviors) and unnecessarily time consuming. But I do enjoy pondering on What Ifs, and I often wonder what I might have done differently if I knew what I know now. For example:

If I’d known I’d be at this job for nearly five years, I would have looked harder for one that had better career potential, or at least that I enjoyed more (although in my defense, I did look and good jobs were scarce on the ground for most of those five years).

On that note, if I had known how many false starts to move elsewhere would have proved fruitless I would have been more proactive about finding a new job anyway, instead of putting up with it for “six more months.”

Along the same lines, I might have looked for a new and better flat. Our former managers seem to walked off with all of the tenets deposit money, which has meant we have to pay this month’s rent again to our new managers and other assorted troubles. I would say I’m surprised, except that they were terrible managers. Though good at kicking up a fuss, I don’t always enjoy doing so and thus I put up with leaky faucets, patchy heating units, bad wiring, and other problems (some of which took a literal year to resolve, and most of which still haven’t been addressed) long past the time I should have demanded more.

I would have been more proactive in pursuing my own career goals instead of allowing myself to get bogged down worrying about J.’s.

I’d have devoted energy elsewhere in some work assignments. For example, if I had known how little the administration was going to do in replacing me, in spite of 4 months’ notice and a lot of extra effort on my part to prepare, I wouldn’t have argued so much for more time. I would have simply taken the time they allowed me with my trainee and focused on completing some projects to include on a resume, and improved what I could before I left. It would have saved several months of stress and sleepless nights.

I would have tried to see setbacks as opportunities to do something new instead of falling back into safer Plan B’s.

I’d have made a stronger effort to let the opinions of others affect me less. I admit freely that I want to be well thought of, but I might have been more concerned with cultivating specific peoples’ good opinion instead of everybody’s.

I would have been more forceful about my worth. As my duties crept up, and then as I took on two other people’s responsibilities after they quit or retired, I largely allowed it to happen without commentary as to whether my pay should have increased as well. And when I attempted addressing what I was making vs. how significantly my job description had changed, I allowed myself to be shut down too easily. Lesson seriously learned.

I would have taken more classes. I had some idea of doing a masters program while working, but the administration shot it down (even though they allowed a coworker to do so, grumble). But I did take a couple of online and in class courses, one of which resulted in a publication in a literary magazine. Should have done more, who knows what else I’d have under my belt now.

Basically, looking back and summing up, for the past few years I’ve lived entirely too much in the future and not nearly enough in the now. I fell into the habit of looking forward to change instead of enacting it in the present. At some points I chose safety over risk, and still feel I was right in doing so, but there are some places where I definitely could have tried for a bit more danger. It’s funny how something can become your normal without your realizing it!

But I’m going to do better about being an active force instead of an acted upon object. I’m out of practice, but I have high hopes for myself.

Looking over the last five years, regrets not included, how would you have done things differently knowing what you know now?

15 thoughts on “Things I Might Have Done Differently”

  1. There are a lot of things I would have liked to do differently. However, I am also a believer in fate and that choices you make lead you somewhere where you are supposed to be, even if the journey isn’t always pleasant and waiting for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow seems fruitless.

  2. I love this, and can relate in a lot of ways. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop kicking myself for not going on a study abroad in college because I thought I had to stay and make bacon.

    That being said, I’m completely, selfishly glad you ended up in the job you did, because I consider you one of the brightest and most precious influences in my life, and without the PD we might never have met.

    1. This is, hands down, the thing that made my day. Thank you so much, lovely. Your friendship is undoubtedly the best thing that came out of the PD for me as well.

  3. Lovely thoughtful post. I saw some of my choices in what you wrote and also in the comments. It’s especially hard in the arts to make “plans” because so many factors are outside our own control. We do the best work we can do from day to day, try to be smart about where to put our energies, and keep our checkbooks balanced if we can – that’s a lot right there. Some part strategy, some part fate, plus the work we put in.

    1. So very true. I think sometimes, if we’re not careful it’s easy to forget about strategy since it involves the longterm but we have to deal with the now. We do the best with the info we’ve got…but wouldn’t it be nice sometimes just to have a ten second glimpse of the future? 😉

  4. The direction I’m going now, it feels like you are me in the future writing about me, right now. And it was published on my birthday!

    I’m taking that as a sign. Thanks for sharing!

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