“I hate how much time I wasted,” she says. “I spent all those years not knowing any better. All that time being so closeminded. And it kills me. I wish I could go back and know that sooner. Live a little. I could have been off having adventures and experiences instead of being a miserable person, forcing myself into boxes and judging everyone.”
I get what she means, but I think she’s being too hard on herself. I’m never sure what to say to her when she brings up this topic, which she does from time to time, as she has some pretty serious regrets. But this time I venture an attempt. I tell her what helped me when I was stuck in a similar cycle of regret, even if our regrets are different (because while we both experienced big changes in our lives, they were different ones).
“I get that you wish you’d figured it out sooner. And I’ve been there. But the truth is — you didn’t waste the time. You have a unique perspective because you believed one thing once upon a time and over time came to believe another. That journey is valuable. You see things other people don’t, people who haven’t gone through such a transformational process and actively questioned their own beliefs. By doing that, you learned important lessons,” I say. “You didn’t waste your time at all. You overpaid for a lesson.”
And as we talk over things a bit more, I find myself wondering if she overpaid at all. Because the cost of such knowledge was rather great, that much is true, but the value of that knowledge cannot be overstated.
And looking back at my own life, I can see it so clearly: I paid a huge price for what I know, but I don’t think it’s possible for me to have overpaid. Because what I learned — about myself, the world, and other people — is actually priceless.