Avoiding Crisis

shoulda, coulda, woulda

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I was once quoted by my local newspaper using this phrase trying to explain a really big loss after a high school field hockey game.  I said something like  ‘what can I say, we lost, I could go on about what we shoulda, coulda and woulda done, but I won’t. They were a better team and they played to win.’  16-year-old me was pretty smart – I should learn to take my own advice and not think so much about what might have been.

Yes, I know, it’s best not to go through life wondering what your life would be had you done this or that differently. Yes, it’s better not to look back and think about all the things that should have been or could have been; all the things that you should have done or could have done.  But, we do.  I do.  

On my most recent trip I crossed paths with many a young traveler backpacking across South America.  It made me think back to when I was that age – in college or a recent college graduate.  (I know what you’re thinking. ‘It must be so hard to remember since it was oh so long ago’.)  

When I graduated from college I had quite a few friends that picked up and left for Europe for a few months.  I did not.  I’m not sure why I didn’t follow suit.  Maybe because I didn’t have any one to go with and I didn’t want to go by myself.  Maybe because the idea of staying in youth hostels and not knowing where I was going to sleep one night to the next just didn’t sit well.  And maybe it was simply because I really like hot showers and clean clothes on a daily basis.  Yet, while I know why I didn’t partake in this right-of-passage that so many others felt the need to, what I don’t know is what I missed out on by not doing it.  Would I have fell in love with the Italy countryside or maybe just with an Italian?  Would I have kept a travel journal that would have later been used as the basis for a book?   

There I go.  Obsessing on what I should have done and what could have been.

Okay so I didn’t go to Europe after graduation.  Instead, I went to work. Actually, I had already been working for nearly a month in Washington, DC when I returned to New York to attend my graduation ceremony.  I flew up on the shuttle the day before graduation and returned to work the day after.  I went straight from the airport to the office.   I was in such a rush back then.  I should have stopped and enjoyed life a bit more. 

I’m doing it again.  Talking about what I should have done.

It’s human nature to think of all the possible directions one’s life could have taken.  It’s one thing to think of such things and then let them go.  Another to dwell on them and feel like you missed out on something, that things could have been better somehow.  I don’t think that anyone can take a good look at their life and be 100% secure in every decision they have made and be 100% content in how their life has turned out.  Seriously, even the most successful people in the world have to have done something that they look back on and wonder about. 

For me turning 30 is a lot about accepting what I have become and letting go of all those shoulda, coulda, woulda moments that seems to be hovering over my head.  Yes, I could have backpacked across Europe if I had really wanted, I shouldn’t have been so apprehensive about taking risks and I probably would have had a very memorable experience.  But I didn’t.  Enough said.

I have so many woulda, coulda, shoulda moments.  I think it’s time to take the advice of 16- year-old me and leave them behind.      

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Written by nicolemarie

February 16, 2007 at 11:35 pm

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