When people saw me during the first month of this school year, they probably thought I looked like a deer in headlights. My freshman self was scared of doing most anything. I even had a hard time ordering my own food.
As time has passed, I’ve conquered a lot of those little fears, but I still haven’t gotten extremely out of my comfort zone. I joined Chi Alpha, a student ministry on campus. I started writing for the Indiana Daily Student. But other than that, I haven’t gone out and explored all that much.
Though there are times I can point out where I wish I would’ve gotten involved or tried something new, I did what I could handle at the time. That’s OK.
We all know the saying “live with no regrets.” While I’ve had my qualms with this overly positive mantra, it typically holds true.
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My first semester, I was too scared to go to callout meetings or sit in a café to study alone. While I now see the value I could’ve gotten from those opportunities I didn’t take, I can’t change the fact that I didn’t take them.
I was a ball of anxiety who wished she could move back home almost every day of the week. Mentally and emotionally, I couldn’t handle pushing my boundaries more than I already had by moving my life to Bloomington.
Ruminating on these freshman mistakes — because that’s all they were — isn’t going to get me anywhere new. The “what ifs” cannot magically change the past.
Though the missed opportunities I’ve mentioned aren’t big at all, repeatedly thinking about them can lead to higher levels of stress, which can have much bigger consequences on our minds and bodies.
While there is merit in evaluating our past actions to change our future behaviors or cope with certain events, ruminating over missed opportunities isn't worth it.
I’ve found that there’s a necessary balance when it comes to regret. I genuinely do live with no regrets, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned from my past actions.
Now, I love sitting in a café, ordering an iced white mocha and listening to classical music while I do homework all by my lonesome. I love taking in the beauty of campus in the springtime all on my own.
Getting to this point doesn’t mean the current me is somehow more worthy than the old me. It doesn’t mean I have to beat myself up. It is what it is.
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My freshman year taught me that most everything is what it is. This isn’t meant to negate protests, strikes or anything of that sort. But it is to say that on a daily basis, we have to let the small things go.
If my outfit doesn’t match perfectly one day, it is what it is. If I missed a meeting, that’s fine. I can try to make up for those things later, but in the present moment, regretful concern should be the least of my priorities.
When we’re in Bloomington, our main concern should be about our personal and educational growth. We can learn from the bad test grade, but we can’t change it. We can learn from the missed meeting, but we can’t attend it.
We can learn from our past, but the “what ifs” are simply not worth it.
Elizabeth Valadez (she/her) is a freshman studying English and political science with a minor in Spanish. She is a member of Chi Alpha.