Recently, a friend of mine was lamenting the fact that they had chosen to go to U of T instead of the numerous other schools they had applied to. I’m sure it’s not an uncommon complaint amongst U of T students – I’ve even found myself thinking the same thing every once in a while.
Regret. Sometimes we can’t help but regret the things we’ve done and the choices we’ve made, wondering if our lives would be any better if we had taken the ‘other’ road.
But I was asked once, if I could go back in time, would I change anything I had done? In my first year, I would have answered with a resounding yes. I had been quite bitter and resentful earlier on in my undergrad because my parents had forced me into attending U of T. All I could think about was how much better it could be somewhere else. This attitude showed up in all aspects of my life: my sub-par grades, the lack of extra-curriculars, deteriorating relationships with friends and family… the list goes on. But now, being in the last term of my fourth year, I’ve had a chance to look back at my time here at U of T and can comfortably say that I wouldn’t change a single thing I’ve done in the last four years.
So what changed?
To be honest, I can’t point to one single reason for why my attitude and outlook changed so dramatically. And it’s really never that simple. But I can say that by the end of my second year, I was tired of always feeling so resentful and angry that I had gotten the short end of the stick. It was probably a combination of both providence and a determination to at least come out of university with some positive memories that had me changing my attitude. In either case, I found that there were numerous opportunities available if I just looked.
Sure, things could’ve been different – maybe even better – had I made different decisions four years ago. But I highly doubt that I would be the person I am right now, enjoying the things I’m doing, both academic and extra-curricular, had I chosen a different path or let myself continue to regret the decisions I had made along the way. And that would truly be a shame.
So, whether you’re in your first or fourth year, Arts or Sciences, things are probably starting to get pretty crazy and stressful and you may start thinking that you’d be way better off somewhere else, doing something else. That may be true, but maybe not. Living in hypotheticals inherently takes us away from the here and now, and most importantly impairs our ability to see the positive – and there’s always a positive – in what we’re doing. Sometimes it’s not enough. But sometimes, it may just help us to realize that the glass we initially thought was half empty is really actually half full and could get fuller yet.
And so, my question to all of you is: If you could go back in time, is there anything in your life that you would really want to change?