I was having quite a deep conversation with my son the other day about life. These opportunities are rare; yet for the majority of the time these chats of ours can become remarkably productive. Maybe not so much for him (because he’s at an age where life is still a new learning experience, and he can’t reflect back on too much), but definitely for me. This is because I am in my early fifties and have had lots of life experience and regrets.
The conversation centred mainly on what we would do if we had the chance to turn the clock back. From his perspective a few years; from mine a good 30! There are a number of things I would certainly do if I had the chance to go back in time.
So here goes….
- Take education more seriously. I had no passion for learning in my teenage years and regret this enormously. I always had a love for Archaeology, and wish I’d have gone to University and experienced the learning, social life and independence.
- I was married at 26. It didn’t work out and I wish I could turn the clock back and stay single for far longer than I did. I think experiencing life, travelling and meeting new people whilst having no commitments is a good thing to do. I think it’s a bit of a shame when young people settle too quickly into relationships, buy houses, work and make commitments far too early. Being bogged down with working full-time supporting a family is very stressful at such a young age. This is my personal view, yet I still respect people that choose to do this.
- Saving money early on. I think it’s really important to get into the habit of saving some money each month so that you have something to fall back on when needed. Locking your money into high interest accounts for a few years at a time pays its rewards at the end of the term.
- Continuing with a hobby that you love, and chipping away at it even if you’re short of time. It’s so easy to get sucked in by working hard in life without setting precious time aside to do the things that you love and that enable you to relax.
- I realise that families can be fragmented or close knit. If you are lucky enough to have the latter, then I feel it’s really important to spend time together and give one another support. I regret not spending more time with my Grandparents when I was a teenager. They had so many life experiences and knowledge to pass on. I regret not spending enough time with them.
- Going out more with friends. I was in a relationship too young, and I never spent much time with my friends. Doing fun things together, such as short breaks away etc. I’m making up for it now though!
- When I reached the age of around 35, both of my boys were at school full-time. I began working part-time; firstly as a dining room assistant at a primary school, and then after a couple of years, I took a course training to be a teaching assistant, which is now my main job . A few of my friends tried to push me into going to Uni, getting a degree, and training to be a Teacher. I just felt that I was too old to go back and so I never bothered. What a shame! Looking back, I would have been qualified at the age of 39 and have had, by now, 13 years of teaching under my belt.
- Looked after my health more. Until a only a few years back, I’ve never really been that conscious of eating healthily. The 5 a day mantra has never really registered in my drippy brain. I do eat better now, but I should have concentrated more on eating fruit and vegetables more often and drank more water. I would now not be I’m sure 2 stone over-weight. On a lighter note, I’ve been a regular gym goer for the past 4 months! I’m getting there.
- Learning a language. I’ve been learning to speak French for a few years and wish I’d begun far earlier. It opens up so many doors. It definitely helps at work, especially if you’re employed in Education like myself. But it can sometimes give you an extra step on a ladder when applying for jobs. It’s also good fun too!
- And finally…Not being so hard on myself. I was such a worrier when I was younger. I always had a need to make sure I made people like me. I was so concerned about saying the wrong thing and upsetting people, and spending too much time ruminating and getting stressed about it. Looking back it was pointless. I’ve noticed as I’ve got older that these things don’t seem to bother me at all anymore. I’m really OK with myself and with what I say and do, and realise that I can’t please people all the time. And I’m content with that.
At the end of the conversation with my son, I took a pen and a piece of paper and wrote this list. I hope it doesn’t come across as being morose and ungrateful, because actually it’s been good for me to reflect. If I could turn the clock back I know without a doubt I would do many of the things I’ve written above. I have regrets for sure, but I’ve also been lucky in that I’ve had good health, (apart from episodes of depression now and again), two boys that have grown into men that I’m proud of and a roof over my head.
LIFE CAN BE QUITE SWEET X