His failure to live up to his potential feeds his regret which feeds his anxiety, completing J.R. Reed’s own Circle of Life.
“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been.”
I have potential. Or so I’m told. I don’t believe it’s contagious but I wore latex gloves as I typed this, just in case. You’re welcome.
My life is a series of regrets. Some regrets are big while others are smaller yet feel huge. How huge? There are times I think the “R” in J.R. stands for regret.
Some of my earliest memories are of being told that I have potential but that I wasn’t living up to it.
Not living up to my potential was what I heard over and over as I was growing up. By “growing up” I mean from as far back as I can remember until sometime around 4:30 yesterday afternoon.
If you’re one of those people who live up to your potential you may not realize that a lack of potential is what feeds regret.
My ears hear the reminder that whatever I’m currently doing is sucking and then purifies it into a crack-like substance and feeds it to my brain which distributes it throughout my nervous system as regret.
Regret is one of anxiety’s favorite foods and when my anxiety feeds on regret it completes my personal Circle of Life.
A lot of my regrets build on each other and form a tower that looms over my life. For example:
I played soccer from the time I was ten but never got decent until I was about sixteen. Before that I was soccer’s version of the backup right fielder.
I regret not being good enough to play on my high school soccer team but I continued to play outside of school and actually got a soccer scholarship.
The college was in a town of 3,000 that became a town of 1,000 when school wasn’t in session. The closest McDonalds was a half hour away and suffice it to say that a kid from the OC didn’t exactly fit in there.
I bailed after one very memorable semester that included losing my virginity to a Pork Queen in a cornfield and getting carpet burn down the entire outside of my leg after getting tripped on Astroturf during a sleet-filled soccer game and sliding across the penalty box while wearing soccer shorts circa 1984.
After not living up to my potential in America’s heartland I came back to Southern California where I promptly got bored with school once again and bailed from a junior college that catered to people like Jeff Spicolli or Alicia Silverstone in Clueless.
That was a regret two-fer. I regret bailing for the academic reasons and because I was leaving a school with lots and lots of cute girls.
School and education have always been big regrets for me. As you may recall I don’t live up to my potential and school is where I often did some of my best work. In a manner of speaking.
I have no reason to care about algebra, trigonometry, physics or anything science related. It’s not my thing and to be perfectly honest it bores the hell out of me.
School doesn’t interest me yet I regret not getting a B.A. I had a hard enough time scraping together enough units for an Associates degree and that took almost a quarter century of my life. Pretty impressive, huh?
While attempting to deal with ongoing anxiety, a ruptured eardrum and a chronic neurological problem I’ve learned a few things about myself.
First is that as I grow older I’m having more “Hey you kids, get off my lawn” moments. I’m not digging that because it doesn’t mix well with the part of me that watches reality TV as a form of therapy.
Think I’m joking? Watch an episode of The Bachelorette, Survivor, Big Brother, Kitchen Nightmares or Hell’s Kitchen and tell me you don’t feel better about yourself. I call it White Trash Therapy. It’s free but the buzz lasts only a short time.
The second thing is that I may actually be gifted but have some sort of learning disability. I still have some testing to do but I might not be the dumbass loser that I’ve generally believed myself to be.
That realization should make me feel better about myself, but it doesn’t. It just reminds me that I’m 46 and am just now figuring out that I’m possibly not a moron.
Do I regret not realizing this years ago? Duh. Of course I do.
Of course I continue to remind myself that I should have figured it out years ago and wonder what I could have accomplished had I pulled my head out a couple of decades earlier.
I recently built a website* and online store for a company I’m running for my brother. I have no clue what HTML actually stands for and I learned everything about how to build the store/site as I was building it.
I had no clue what I was doing and no budget to work with so I studied, researched, and had more than a few failures before finally getting it done mostly to my liking. My help came mostly from my Muse and she should be commended for putting up with me during that month I built the store.
Once the store went live I should have been proud of myself. I was proud but the feeling lasted about twenty minutes then regret kicked me in the junk and I was regretting not learning how to do this earlier in life.
Now I have to learn Photoshop and Illustrator on the fly while trying to figure out how to optimize the site, promote it properly on social media and build brand awareness. Piece of cake.
My life isn’t all regret. I still rock argyle like a mad man and I don’t regret that one bit. Nor do I regret my decision to start blogging in 2009. I also don’t regret being a single parent. I occasionally doubt my ability to raise a well adjusted daughter but I don’t regret it for a single moment.
I don’t have all the answers but I think that it comes down to figuring out how my brain works and how to uncork the potential that allegedly resides inside me. I need that potential to flow free and help me be the me that I’m pretty sure I can be.
The quote at the top of the post comes from the book Cat’s Cradle by one of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut. True dat, Kurt. True dat.
I’m tired of wondering what I could have been. Instead I need to focus on what I can be.
Its time to kick regret in the junk and give it a swirlie.
* The website/store I built is www.custombucketseats.com. If you have any suggestions for how to improve it or promote it, I’m all ears.
Read more on Regret on The Good Life.
Check out J.R. Reed’s blog on The Good Men Project, Reed My Writing.
—Photo credit: pk2004/Flickr