That’s a tough word to swallow for a feeler like me. As an unapologetic heart-on-my-sleeve kind of girl, regret has always been a tough emotion for me to find a home for. Mainly because I don’t want to have regrets. But I do. And quite honestly, I have never been able to identify with people who claim they don’t have any. I mean what is that like?
Because when I look back at my life, I can say with confidence that there are things I would have done differently, there are moments I can pinpoint where I absolutely would have made a different choice, and there are situations I am living now where I can’t help but wonder if I will look back and question the very decisions I am making. And it drives me crazy.
There are days where my mind feels like the world’s largest decision tree. You know, those diagrams where it starts off “Are you renting a car?” –> “Yes” —> “Do you have insurance?” —> “No” —> “You should purchase insurance at rental car counter.” Except that particular example has a pretty clear cut path. The decision trees in my head, not so much. The decision trees in my head are liberal users of growth hormones and end up with branches in every which direction. Directions I didn’t even know branches were capable of growing. And the result is a often a gnarly tree, sleepless nights, and a frustrated Megan.
I want decisions to be obvious and linear, but the truth is they are not. Perhaps that is why, from an early age, I have consulted many book shelves and ventured down many Google rabbit holes trying to find answers to questions I know full well can’t be found. And this is because the type of questions that spiral into gnarly decision trees aren’t “Should I buy this car?” or “Should I allocate more money to my emerging market fund?” Instead they are questions that have the potential to impact my emotional and mental well-being. In my case, they are often questions of the heart. Which if we are going to use analogies, is like the Wild Wild West of my body and soul. It is downright lawless in there – but in the best possible way.
I love my heart. I don’t want my heart to be a full-time, or even a part-time, rational. But sometimes, in moments of confusion, I have pleaded and begged for my heart to just try on rationality for size. Just see how it fits. I remind my heart, you don’t have to buy it, but ya know, get some answers. Humor me.
The heart rebukes logic. Defies it really. And if one could make a meme of this situation in 2018, it would be a heart with a shirt that says “Brain Bye”.
It is a downright exhausting cycle. I’ve spent years with myself, and I continue to be baffled at how two organs (brain and heart) separated by mere inches (18 inches, per a question Google does readily know the answer to) can feel like complete strangers.
I mean, how do we as humans really know what is best for us? How do I know in a moment I am making the right decision for my future? How do I know I won’t regret this? What if I change my mind? Is it too late? Did I miss the chance I had?
I think the common term for what I am describing here is: analysis paralysis. And oh buddy do I have a serious case of it when it comes to matters of the heart. The answers aren’t black and white. And while we’re discussing colors, my heart isn’t red, it’s gray.
Sounds bleak, I know.
But the good, or should I say comforting, news is: I don’t think I am alone. As a race driven by instinct, motivated by instant gratification, and terrified of failure – we are crippled by decisions that require patience, faith, and trust. Why? Because those things aren’t easy. They are messy. They are complicated. They take time. And perhaps most annoyingly, they can’t be Googled.
But what I have come to believe, is that our hearts aren’t rational as a means of protection. They are gray because some decisions just are not black and white. Our hearts reminds us of this, and provide reassurance, via downright defiance of logic, that we aren’t supposed to have all the answers. We will fail. We will make the wrong choice. It will hurt, sometimes badly. But guess what? Nobody gets it right all the time. Not your parents. Not your boss. Not your best friend. Not your significant other. Not even Beyonce.
We’re all human and making mistakes is part of our condition. And if you are like me, you will likely regret a few of the choices you make along the way. You won’t be able to completely undo them, but you can learn from them, you can give things time, you can heal, and you can right the ship. You can try each day to remind yourself that your heart is gray. But it is the most beautiful shade of gray you will ever know.