Failure: n. lack of success; the omission of expected or required action
Regret: v. feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done) n. a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
Which is better: failure or regret? Does the fear of failure cause you to not try something new or different and then you later regret not acting? Can you experience failure without having feelings of regret? Is regret a result of failure?
I came across a video on Instagram that said it was better to fail at a thing than to live with regret for never having tried. Which got me to thinking about my life. How many opportunities have I missed because I was too scared to fail? How, my feelings of regret paralyzed me from being able to move forward. I have wanted to leave Missouri since 1998, yet, here it is 2020 and I am still living in the same city and state. Why?
A large part of it has been due to my fear of moving to a new city/state and not knowing anyone. I am an introvert and it takes a while for me to warm up to new people. I was scared that I would not be able to take care of my family due to lack of a support system. I was afraid I would fail and have to move back “home.” I only ended up in Columbia because I was following my best friend in high school. I had never heard of the University of Missouri. I had planned to attend Kansas State University even though Kansas University had a renown medical program (I have never liked the Jayhawks). Those plans changed after my father retired from the Air Force during the summer before my senior year and moved back to the Kansas City area to be close to his family.
The other part of my staying so long is due to regret. Regret is often spoken of in terms of something that one did or experienced. However, I think some of my regrets stem from things that I wanted to do but never did. Like the aforementioned move. Letting someone know that what they said or did hurt me. Not speaking up for myself more, or compromising so much that I no longer recognized myself.
I have regretted having not one, not two, but three children out of wedlock (by three different men). I regret not believing in myself, that I have what it takes to raise my children in a new place. I regret my poor spending habits and bad credit that limited my options. I regret listening to all the voices that told me I couldn’t leave, I was a bad mother, I’m not good enough to attend this school or earn that degree, that I was not intelligent enough, pretty enough, or skinny enough to pursue my dreams. Unfortunately, sometimes, the loudest voice was my own, convincing me to stay in place.
I had plans to transfer to Xavier University in New Orleans, LA after my sophomore year of school to fulfill my desire to attend an HBCU. However, that summer I got pregnant and I was terrified to move to a new city with a newborn. I was only 20 years old when I got pregnant. I have never lived in an apartment (I had lived in the dorms for two years). I didn’t have a job or car. How was I going to move to a different state where I didn’t know anyone? That was the first time I chose to stay.
Life continued to happen, child number two arrived. I had decided I no longer wanted to be a doctor, but rather a nurse. The path to nursing school began. I ended up needing to drop-out of the program because of the strain of working a full-time job while trying to attend nursing school, and being a mother to two young children. When I decided I was ready to resume school, I was not allowed to re-enroll, or I was going to have to re-take several pre-requisites. I began looking at schools out of state – North Carolina, Virginia, and Texas. Heck, I even considered St. Louis and Kansas City – I just wanted a nursing degree. I eventually was re-admitted to Columbia College’s School of Nursing, earning an ADN, on to MU’s SON for my RN-BSN, and then on to Walden University for an MSN-MPH.
No one wants to be considered a failure, but the truth of the matter is, we have all failed at one thing or another, and if we are honest, we have failed more than once. There is nothing wrong with failing. It is often through failure that we learn and grow. Some lessons can only be learned through failing. The bright side is, failure can teach you something that is not easily forgotten or that you possibly might not have learned had you not failed. Failure causes you to get out of your comfort zone, to look at things from a different perspective, and possibly get innovative and not stick with the status quo. Of course, that only happens if you are first willing to try, fail, and try again.
Failure is a stepping stone on your path to success. Use it as a tool and do not let it become a regret. Do not regret trying and not getting it right the first, second, fifth or tenth time. Take what you learned from each of those failures and figure out how to apply the new knowledge to move forward.