Remember in elementary school, when you messed up in a game at recess and you could call out “do-over” and you’d get to try again? Do you have any moments, decisions, or experiences in life for which you want to scream “do-over”? Have you looked back on, say, college, and thought, “Man, I wish I could go back and do that again, knowing what I know now”? Having reached this place of mid-40’s, the prospect of a life do-over comes up from time to time, either in conversations with friends or in my own little thought world.
Some things I never, ever want to do over. Junior high, for one. Horrible. Awkward, confused, looking out from under a mess of permed hair. No. Even knowing what I know now, I couldn’t do it.
There are some things, though, that I do think about. In fifth grade, we got to join the concert band. We were given the choice of which instrument to play. I wanted to play the drums. They were SO COOL and I wanted to bang away on them. But when it came time for me to choose, my mouth said, “flute.” Girls didn’t play the drums. Seriously, I remember that thought going through this head. I played the flute for five years. The piccolo, too. I was pretty good. But … I would have rocked those drums.
In high school, I could have joined more, done more, lived more. And maybe taken a few more risks with my teachers, exploring thoughts and ideas more than I did. I could have been a better friend. I could have taken more ownership of my future, rather than letting it happen. I could have taken up the guitar, to complement my prowess on drums, and formed a rock band. Joan Jett, eat your heart out.
I do knock myself upside the head with some of the choices that I made in college. What was I thinking, choosing to major in “Business Administration.” Is that even something? I loved Economics and couldn’t major in it because I swore off math, specifically Calculus, in my Freshman year. What? My grown-up self would shake that little 17 year-old body and say, SUCK IT UP. Other things in college, like never taking advantage of the fabulous arts the campus had to offer, not joining a sorority, not joining much of anything really, I also regret. If I’d only opened my eyes a little more. And I’m not even going to start on that decision to go to law school.
Some parts, I did right and I’m happy that I did. Like living in France for a summer. Check. Mark. I lived, I experienced, I explored. I survived emergency surgery when I was all by myself in Munich, followed by the trains and planes trip back to the U.S. on crutches … a story for another day.
I married the right guy, for sure, but I would take a wedding do-over. It was gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, and I couldn’t have asked for more of a fairy tale day. But I was worn out. The Big Day was a week after I finished and graduated law school. My do-over would have us tying that knot quite a while later. Maybe without the bridesmaids who I haven’t seen more than twice since. And I would have dancing. And, somehow, a beach.
My career path could have a lot of do-overs. But I don’t dwell on those much, other than to wish that I could tell my hard working younger self to take a breath. To walk away sometimes. To look around. To recognize when I was really good, not just when I didn’t think I was good enough.
Mostly, I reflect upon the risks I didn’t take. The times I played it safe rather than rolling the dice. Those are the do-overs I’d like. The heart-in-your throat times and the why-nots, those are the did-it-good moments, even if the outcomes were not the best.
I remember when I was young, I told my dad that I had never made a major decision in life where I didn’t feel at peace afterward. I didn’t yet understand that afterward is a very long time. I’m not suggesting that I regret the life I’ve lived so far. To the contrary, it’s been quite a ride. But for some things, especially those drums, I’d still like to call out, “DO-OVER”!