I recently watched this video where Strayer University and A Plus set up a chalkboard in New York City that asked people to write their biggest regret. The common theme that came out of this was that most people regretted things they HADN’T done versus things they had.
This is something I struggled with particularly when I was younger where I would often find myself internally obsessing over things that I didn’t go through with, whether it was NOT saying something I wanted to say or NOT doing something I had really wanted to do.
What slowly started to help change my attitude about deciding to do things was by constantly asking myself, “What’s the worst that can happen?”
When I was about 12 years old, my best friend (to this day *insert heart*) invited me to join her family at the park for the day. I was absolutely thrilled. I asked my dad and I was disappointingly met with a firm, “No.”
“But why?” (My other favourite question to ask and I strongly urge more people to ask this sometimes). My dad mumbled on in his South Asian parent way about “that’s just the way it is”.
I was really bothered by the lack of explanation and frankly, I really wanted to go. And you know when you really want to do something and you just need one person to nudge you to do it? Well that was where my brother came in. Watching me get declined by my dad, my brother then said something to me that essentially pushed the first domino to all my “rebellion” reaction that would follow from here on in; he turned to me and said, “Just go anyway.”
Here’s my brain processing this: Just go anyway? IS HE INSANE? I thought he loved me? What type of advice is that? I can’t just go. If I did that then it would mean…wait what would that mean? What exactly would happen? Hold on here. Hmmm my dad would probably get REALLY mad and yell at me…but then I would still be fed and given access to TV (major concerns for a 12 year old) and after a day max, it would blow over. So really, yelling looks like a small price to pay for going to the park for a WHOLE day and having fun with a friend, which is not something “bad” to be doing anyways…
And so I went. And by went, I mean I snuck out the next morning through the back door, raced over to my friend’s house and spent the whole day playing in the park.
Mind you, I spent the whole day worrying about what would happen to me when I got home that day and when I did get home that day, my dad got REALLY mad and yelled at me…and then I ate dinner and watched some TV. We were fine by the next morning.
I learned a few key things from this:
- Just go/do it anyways
- What could happen as a result is not worth worrying about until it actually happens.
- When it does happen, you can handle it.
- I didn’t regret anything.
Now as I’ve gotten older, the choices I’m making are a lot bigger and more important than deciding to sneak off to the park for one day. The things I’m now deciding are things like where do I want to live? What type of work do I want to be doing? Who are the people I’m sharing my life with? What type of life am I trying to make for myself? Although the choices are heavier, the process of making decisions leads back to the same question, “What’s the worst that can happen?”
It’s taken me many years to master this type of thinking but ultimately, (as you read the next few sentences, please play this in the background) – I’ve realised trying is better than doing nothing at all. Whether it’s moving to a new place, taking on a new hobby, going out on my own, reaching out to an old friend, telling a guy I like him – I have gotten a lot further by trying than not trying at all. It may not always work out the way I want it to but at least I know for sure instead of wondering about what could have happened; I can learn and know what to do better for the next time and the next time after that.
The reality for most (disclaimer: not all) of the people I know is that the worst case scenario is still a good one. When I moved to London, I had minimal savings and no job. What was the worst thing that could have happened? Maybe in six months, I would have no luck with finding work and I would run out of money. I would have no friends and be extremely lonely. So then I would probably cry, book a one way back home on my credit card, go back to live with my parents, see my friends and start looking for work again in Toronto. Not bad don’t you think?
And fortunately, it didn’t come down to that. With every worst case scenario, there’s also the best case scenario and for me, things turned out even better than what I had thought was my best case scenario at that time. *Pats self on back*
As I’m having conversations with more people who really have an itch to move abroad, I say to you that if it’s not logistically impossible and what’s holding you back is fear – DO IT ANYWAYS! What may happen as a result is not worth worrying about until it actually happens. And when it does happen, you will handle it. Above all, you will NOT regret doing it! By even having the option to consider moving, you are already lucky.
And even if you aren’t thinking about moving abroad but just itching to make a change in your life, I say the same to you. Wipe off whatever you would put down on your chalk board. Now’s the time – just try!
Because really, what’s the worst that can happen?
P.S. For maximum effect, try listening to Aaliyah on repeat.