Friday is my birthday. As a kid I used to love my birthday. My Mom would always throw a nice little party with my relatives where we’d eat her wonderfully sweet homemade cake and pretzels and candy and chips. I used to love all the fuss my loved ones use to make, but the tide has turned over the last few years. I want to be excited with anticipation like I used to be, but instead of looking forward to celebrating another year, I dread it. I know it’s because my age has run amuck. When I say the actual number of years I’ve lived out loud, I almost choke. I become very introspective as I “shoulda, woulda, coulda” myself to death. If only I had done this; if only I hadn’t done that, yadda, yadda, yadda. I can’t help myself. Maybe it’s because things haven’t turned out the way I planned. But when does life ever actually turn out the way you plan?
And so I ask…can I get a “do over?” I know the answer is a resounding no, unless it’s in the next life, which is much too exhausting to even think about. And I understand that you have to keep looking forward and not back and keep living life in the present and not the future. But I still like to play this “what would I have done differently” game.
So, if I had to do my life over, I would have…
… gotten a degree in theatrics or journalism because that is where my heart has always been.
… chased my dreams until I caught them.
… taken more chances.
… not settled for less.
… tried to be who I wanted to be instead of who everyone else wanted me to be.
… not wasted my precious time in an unhappy place.
… been braver and stronger.
… stayed in California awhile longer to see if it would have worked.
… stopped in Vegas on the way home to see my friend Dave who had sent me a dozen red roses to bribe me to stay. This is a big “I should have.”
…called my parents more.
… tried to better understand my Dad.
… never, ever married the ex. BIG mistake. HUGE.
… however, I would have had to miraculously conceive my daughters because I couldn’t live without them.
… never lived in Pennsylvania. Every one of the three moves around the state was a mistake.
… said exactly what was on my mind without considering the circumstances, because to keep silent and just take what I got turned out to be my nemesis.
Time, time, time. It tics and it tocs and before you know it, you are in the latter chapters of your life wondering how you got there so quickly. You try to look forward but you keep looking back to see if you can discover the key to why things have turned out the way they have. But good, bad or indifferent, it’s your life. It’s my life. And you can’t do it over. You have to dig deep and focus on the positives, which cancel out the negatives. Sometimes…
What would you have done differently?