I read the premise of an essay contest wrong.
Correction: I didn’t read it in full.
The question was to write about a decision from your past you would change if you could. That’s as far as I read. The second part of it was “and tell us what that mistake taught you about yourself.”
So off I went to answer the first part of the question. I’m a champion babbler. I typed for almost an hour… edited, rewrote, edited again. As most people think when they set out to write something several hours after everyone else in the household has been sleep, I thought it was brilliant.
It’s probably not. However, I’m taking my own advice and putting it “out there” anyway. Even though it should be reread with a clear, well-rested mind and I’ll regret it after I wake up.
So here was my almost submission answering “what decision from your past would you change?”
Nothing. Cliché? Of course. Truth? Absolutely. But not for the reason you may think. Scores of my fellow contest entrants will type away about how happy they are with their lives and changing one decision of the Past would alter the Present and we wouldn’t have our children/husband/friends/job/whatever. Change the contest to “What would you change and not have all the goodness of your life affected” and that’s a whole new ball of wax. It would take more than 1,500 words to create an introduction.
I battle OCD and a severe anxiety disorder. I’m a victim of my own thoughts, a prisoner of my own mind. If I don’t learn to accept I can’t change my past decisions, I’ll drive myself crazy. I can wish. I can agonize. It doesn’t make a difference….. except I’ll be miserable. So why both with this essay?
This question begs us to dig deeply and seek out the vilest or embarrassing decision. We’ll type it out, send it in for the world to read… and not exhale until the responses come in. Those of us who have made regretful decisions will seek absolution. The dramatics want comradery. We all want the comfort from our readers, “It’s ok. You’re ok now. That’s nothing compare to what I did.”
Can we skip the confession and go right to solidarity?
No. Acknowledgement is part and parcel of the process. I’ve got news for you. Submitting your essay isn’t enough. It felt like it when you hit send— or your immediate reaction was “Ok. This is really the decision I wish I could change.” If you’re reading my words, your essay wasn’t selected. Email it off to someone who you didn’t ask to look it over. Print it out and leave it on the train. Get it out there somehow. Be gutsy. I dare you.
Isn’t that what it all boils down to? Being gutsy? Doing that thing you never thought you could do? That thing you didn’t do? That decision you wrote about that you would change… the one you didn’t have the guts to do the first time around? Pick it apart. I can guarantee you can fill in the following blanks: I ____ because I didn’t have the guts to ____ and I’d change that if I could.
Freeing, isn’t it. Scary too. But done. You said it. It’s “out there”.
Ironic, isn’t it….. I’ll bet right now you wish you made the decision to free yourself sooner.
I know I do.