The notion of regret is one I typically do not subscribe to. I’ve always believed things happen for a reason. Even when I make a bad decision, at least I’d know better than to repeat it. How does that famous saying go? Oh, yes: There are no regrets in life; just lessons. (Uncle Google tells me this quote is attributed to Jennifer Aniston – I learn something new every day!)
Recently, however, I found myself awash with regret. Here’s the story: Last week, my parents asked me if I could go to Malaysia with them. Right away, I brushed them off, saying I wouldn’t be free anytime soon because of the many deadlines I have.
I wish I had recognised their looks of disappointment at the time. Alas, damage was done. Slowly, I felt this sense of guilt rising up in me, guilt of not spending enough quality time with my loved ones. You know what makes it 10 times worse? The fact that I work from home now.
As soon as I’d made that connection, snatches of recent conversations and quiet interactions I had had with my parents came hurling at me:
My dad asking me what I feel like eating for lunch/dinner.
My mum coming into my room and sitting on my bed while I type away on my laptop.
My dad’s look of excitement every time I tell him I’ll be home for dinner.
My parents asking me how my meetings went each time after I come home from one.
My mum, just being there for me and supporting me in whatever I do.
Cue the endless waves of regret. If only I’d realised sooner just how much my parents have been doing for me. Yes, I quarrel with my dad a lot – and because hindsight is a vengeful, deliberate bitch, it always leaves me stewing in guilt for days.
But instead of letting the guilt fester into something even uglier, I’ve convinced myself to look on the bright side. It could have been worse – you know, better late than never and all that jazz. While I can’t take back any past moments of regret, I can still set things right. So, I will make time for my parents and accompany them across the causeway next week. After all, work is neverending; there will always be new deadlines.
Lesson I’ve learnt? With every second ticking by, time is something you can never get back. Spend it doing things that matter to you – in my case, being present with my family – and it will be time well spent.
About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.