The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Thought You Knew: Biggest Regret? It's Hard to Pick Just One

3 min read

Northwestern University and the University of Illinois conducted a study last week that uncovered some shocking information: people regret stuff.

According to the study, in which 370 adults of all ages were surveyed about what they regretted the most, the majority of Americans’ biggest regrets ever involve love, education and careers.

This groundbreaking insight prompted me to look at my life and my choices so I could pinpoint my biggest regret ever. I was having trouble doing this because, if you’re not living a life marred with regret about everything you do or say, you’re not really living life.

How could I choose just one biggest regret ever?

I thought perhaps I should see what other people’s biggest regrets ever were in order to determine what made a regret big, versus medium or small, and, of course, how long “ever” is. I consulted the website, where people bravely share their biggest regrets ever.

Based on my research, it seems that anything can be a biggest regret ever. There was a 12-year-old female who regretted the time she had sex with an anonymous “you,” in exchange for a promised ipod Nano that she never even received.

A 19-year-old male expressed regret over attempting to blow himself, and a 16-year-old budding serial killer has lived with the regret of drowning his pet cat for the past eight years.

All of these strangers’ Biggest Regrets Ever helped me narrow down my biggest regrets ever to just a few, but I’m still not sure which one is the biggest.

One of my Biggest Regrets Ever happened just last week. I was getting dinner at Salad Creations and, in a moment of uncertainty, I created a salad with iceberg lettuce. As soon as I heard the word “iceberg” come out of my mouth, I knew I actually wanted romaine lettuce, but the damage was done.

I will have to live the rest of my life knowing I ate that salad with iceberg lettuce. If I can even continue living after that.

If you think that regret is traumatic, you haven’t heard anything yet.

On a recent warm day, I wore a modest sundress with a cardigan. Barely anyone ogled me. It was the worst day of my life and it all could have been avoided if I’d just worn a dress with a lower neckline.

There was also the time I received the inspirational email forward “Sisterhood of the Traveling Butterflies.” I was moved to tears by its positive message and animated sparkly butterfly images, but I only forwarded it to eight people, not the suggested 10. Because I didn’t send it to two more people, no one I love is going to surprise me.

These are the regrets that plague my psyche. I must endure the memories of my questionable actions and poor decisions through all of my waking hours. Some things will never go away.

Hopefully, in time, the pain will dull, but it will only be as I acquire even more biggest regrets ever. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to choose just one, because all of these instances made me the person I am today.

As much as I’d love to travel through the space-time continuum to alter these events so they could have more favorable, less regrettable outcomes, I know it can never happen. To dwell on such impossibility would only become another biggest regret ever.

After all, as the saying goes, ‘tis better to have eaten the salad with iceberg lettuce and regretted it, than to never have eaten a salad at all.