I once read somewhere that “all regrets in life basically come down to wishing I knew then what I know now.” I can’t speak to that point definitively—I’m no more an expert on regret than any of us are—but it is an interesting thought, one that I think especially applies to those of us who feel the weight of failure.
It’s probably the easiest baggage to accidentally pick up along the way: the burden of failure. The aching, sinking feeling of plans not working out, and the secret shame of knowing you could have done more, could have done better, and could have done it all faster. It’s the homecoming no one dreams about, where you slink back home with your tail between your legs and quest abandoned.
Maybe the trials of the road got to you—every great quest has them. Maybe your nerve failed at a crucial moment. Or maybe the ordinary troubles of life got in between you and anything extraordinary.
Whatever the reason, I think shame comes for us all at some point.We feel lost—significantly more lost than when we set out the first time. It’s far easier to never set out on a journey than it is to have to come home with your story unresolved. And it’s in that moment I think we lose sight of our most important ally—one we often fail to perceive in life, or think of a villain: time.
That’s the great secret of being human: time is on your side. It’s your ally. It’s the greatest resource you have. Think about yourself a year ago—you know so much more than they do. You’re so much wiser now. You’ve seen more of life, experienced more trials, and gained valuable experiences and memories that will guide you for the rest of your life.
So if you’ve felt the weight of failure before, or feel it now, think back to the time before you failed. You were so courageous to set out—but so naive. Foolish even. You knew so little about the world and how it worked.
But now—now you know. You’ve gained something that is going to make the difference the next time you set out, the invaluable lessons and knowledge of experience. The gift given to us by our friend time.
May the road rise up to meet you!