“So don’t go wishing or regretting, there’s no selective way to cull
You can’t change anything, without changing it all.”
I used to live a hypothetical life. I would be sitting at my desk and the sight of another Facebook photo of another wedding or engagement or new baby would usher me into a fugue state where I’d imagine all the ways my life would be different if I just hadn’t done what I did, said what I said, or gone where I did. And I’d kick myself for all the things I was missing out on. I’d tell myself “Look! Look how much better our life could have been.” As I pointed out a shadowy hunk of a husband and the most adorable (and well-behaved) children you ever did see. And look at that – I wasn’t a receptionist… I was everything I ever wanted to be! And successful. Very successful. And very happy. So stupidly happy that the Shadow-Man and I would sit around with my friends and just laugh. Toasting to sunsets and terraces and a life lived correctly.
I used to visit that life a lot, but I don’t let myself anymore. Not because it wasn’t real, but because of the parts of it that were.
I realized that I was building a perfect life by taking everything that I love about my life now – this city, my friends, my opportunities – and adding all the things I wish I had on top. But that math doesn’t work.
Ten years ago I was prepping to move to Australia, if I had gotten married ten years ago – that probably wouldn’t have happened (bye-bye Australian friends and experiences). Five years ago, I was prepping to move to New York, if I was married with kids that probably wouldn’t have happened (bye-bye New York friends and experiences). One year ago I was making videos that made Shonda Rhimes a fan of mine – if I was married with kids, that definitely wouldn’t have happened (bye-bye Scandal friends, experiences and opportunities). Everything about my life today is built on everything that has (and hasn’t) happened up until now. So for me to have any of those imagined things, I would have had to give up something real. So I ask myself: what would I trade? Which of my friends, strengths and dreams would I give up?
And it turned out that the list of what I wouldn’t give was pretty long.
So I try not to torture myself with hazy imaginings of my “if only” husband and children. They’re amazing, but they have no place here. Because if they did, I’d have no place here. I don’t know where I’d be or even who I’d be. Or what I’d be wishing for from there. Because no life is perfect. But mine is actually pretty good when I’m not focused on what I don’t have.