I read this Guardian article over the weekend. It was about a nurse who has recorded the most common regrets of the dying, and among the top ones is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’.
What would your biggest regret be if this was your last day of life?
I’m not so sure what my regret would be. Perhaps not working hard enough? Perhaps taking my friendships for granted. God knows I could be better at replying messages, emails, texts. Would it kill me to drop a line every now and again to a friend who I haven’t seen in a while? The answer is obviously it wouldn’t.
Would spending too much time on the internet be a regret? Not seeing enough of the world and everything it has to offer (I.e Japan & India)? Not going to see 21 Jump Street again. Buying too much Hollister & not enough fun? Not learning how to surf properly. Not taking a real beach vacation with friends. Not renting a proper studio.
I’ve never been in love, although I did announce my love for my soulmate – admittedly via an email HA and a mixtape (cuz i was a coward to do it in person)- but he never receipted that sentiment back, not even a tiny bit. But I’m glad I got it off my chest, after all, it’s not everyday you find your soulmate – and it’s not everyday i say the word soulmate! And we’re great mates.
I don’t think I’ve ever been loved back unless by a friend or a family member. I’ve never been so drunk that I couldn’t remember what happened the previous night. Never had a hangover. Never drove a car. Never sat first class in anything – whether that’s a train or a plane. I never missed school for the fun of it, but I did miss a few French lessons on rolling dinner time by pretending we were in year 10 and not year 9 (and it shows). I’ve never eaten at an IHOP.
I nearly always order the same thing at certain restaurants (71 at Wagamamas, chicken bhuna at the Agraah, Spag Bog at Central Park & McChicken Sandwich without Mayo at McDonalds). I’ve never ate at a super posh restaurant. I’ve never said the phrase, “put it on my tab!” I have loads of disposable cameras that need to be developed but put it off just incase the photos are crap and I’ve wasted £6.99 on shit photographs.
There’s obviously so much more in this world that I haven’t done. But there’s also been lots that i’ve already done!
I’ve worked my dream-life for a whole summer in 2008 whilst interning at Postermasters Gallery, NYC. I’ve gone from coast-to-coast in 4 weeks across America, blagged my way into a VIP party on a rooftop of Las Vegas at the tender age of 18 with fake ID and shit clothes, I’ve watched the sun set and rise on many different continents. I’ve attempted to surf multiple of times, but I probably say swallowing a lot of salt water is more apt. I’ve slept on a park bench, in the back of a car in brutal february weather. I was the first person to ever go to university or graduate high school in my entire family history. I got a first class honors degree, a masters degree at that. I occasionally get head-hunted for my skills. I’ve been published in a few books and magazines. I’ve taken last minute flights from airports. I’ve missed many flights from airports. I’ve tried crazy food. Even if I didn’t like it, i always try it again later. (Sushi!) I may not be able to drive, but I’ve met some of the most interesting people whilst taking public transport. I’ve seen the Titanic movie – 3 times. (I probably won’t be seeing it in 3d).
I think sometimes it is easy to dwell on what wasn’t. And even though I think it’s great to think about what you haven’t done, or don’t do and would like to. It’s important to consider everything else you have done in evaluating your regrets.
Here are the top 5 regrets:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
What’s your greatest regret so far, and what will you set out to achieve or change before you die?
Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.